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Weather: "People Don't Fear The Water Enough"

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"People Don't Fear the Water Enough"

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season is right around the corner and so it’s time to prepare. From the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, meteorologist Jeff Huffman reports, the first consideration should involve your home’s proximity to the water.

It’s not enough to just say you’ll be ready. National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb says you need a plan. And it’s easy.

“If you're overwhelmed by the thought of preparing, I would recommend starting with the evacuation question. Find out today if you live in an evacuation zone.”

In the past 50 years, nine out of ten fatalities from tropical storms or hurricanes in the U.S. have been caused by water, not wind.

“People don't really fear the water enough. I think that's why we're losing most of the lives historically in water. But, these are preventable fatalities.”

Millions of Floridians live near the water, but not everyone is at risk. The first step is to find out whether you live in a storm surge evacuation zone.

Next, determine your safe place and how you will get there. Safe places don’t have to be far away. And if you live inland, find a friend or family member you can provide shelter for.

And finally, make sure your plan is in writing, shared with family and friends, and that you leave early. Longtime St. Johns County resident David Smith remembers how crucial that was during Hurricane Frances in 2004.

“When we left that one time to go to Orlando to get to the airplane, we left at 9 o’clock in the morning. Neighbors on either side left by 10 o’clock and they were stuck.”

If your plan is to wait until a storm is coming, David’s wife Marian recalls why that might not be a good idea.

"You sort of get panicky when it's starting to happen, but if you have prepared ahead of time, you just say 'okay, I'm going to get through it.’"

You can find out if you live in an area threatened by water by visiting your county’s emergency management website or FloridaDisaster.org.

Director Koon: "If it can rain, it can flood."

Florida is no stranger to rain: but it's been awhile since it came down sideways and had a name. Determining the need for flood insurance is another important item to check off your hurricane season “to-do” list.

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Debby was the last tropical storm to produce widespread flooding in Florida, and nearly all of the estimated $250 million in damage occurred dozens of miles inland. Independent Insurance Agent Bryan Williams shared an alarming stat about one of Florida’s inland counties.

"Less than once percent of people have flood insurance in Alachua County. I think it's the comfort of being inland and not near the coast."

Director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management Bryan Koon says if it can rain, it can flood.

“You're going to see areas that get ten to twenty inches of rain. Even if you're not in a flood zone, if you get that much rain, you're going to flood.”

Director Koon says this might be the easiest and smartest thing you can do this week to get #HurricaneStrong.

“You're rolling the dice. If you have a flood you really could have some serious financial problems after that storms occurs. So talk to your insurance agent. Find out more about what it would cost you to get coverage.”

According to FEMA's website, flood insurance on a 100,000 dollar home would cost a dollar a day.

Most insurance companies require a 30-day waiting period before going into effect. Hurricane Season begins June 1st.