Erika brings back memories from past storms
Local residents were hopeful that Tropical Storm Erika didn’t change its mind and come back to pay a visit like Hurricane Wilma did in 2005.
Those who have lived on the Isles of Capri for a number of years know first-hand that preparation is important. Most have learned that “worrying about a disaster is not productive,” but that making plans -- should one occur -- is what matters.
Some residents new to the area express feelings of insecurity after watching the continuous media coverage warning residents of a pending disaster.
“Are you afraid of Erika?” asked Gail Ueland, new to Capri from Palm Dessert, Calif., in a recent post to the Coconuttele operator.
“We are not afraid, but will watch and prepare,” is the most frequent answer given by residents who have lived here for a while.
Several years back, Jim von Rinteln, Collier County emergency management coordinator at that time, was invited to the Capri Community Inc. Association meeting to give residents a refresher course on how to prepare for the peak of the hurricane season -- mid-August through mid-October.
Rinteln reminded attendees just how lucky they are to live on the Isles of Capri.
“After all,” he said, “the Calusa Indians settled here, and they were astute at studying weather patterns without any high-technical support.
“My main worry about residents here is that you don’t leave. Just because you survived previous major hurricanes like Andrew and Wilma, don’t think it is safe to stay when a major storm is approaching as each one is different,” Rinteln said. “If Wilma had hit further north, we could have gotten a 10 foot storm surge in this area. The eye-wall of Wilma is what did the most damage on Capri. Winds in the eye-wall are actually higher than the eye itself.”
In support of Rinteln’ s warning, former Isles of Capri Fire Chief Emilio Rodriguez warned that if we get a category two or above storm, the fire department staff also evacuates with equipment.
“If you stay, then you will have no emergency services available to you,” said Rodriguez. He also cautioned residents that after a storm, the emergency services “come in street by street, and for those at the far end of the isles, this could be a problem in terms of how quickly help can be at your door.”
“Free handouts of food, water and other supplies distributed after Hurricane Wilma will not be so readily available in future storms,” said Rinteln.
Each resident should assume responsibility now for gathering sufficient supplies to last three to five days per person in the household, he said.
Capri’s fire station added a large generator that can provide a place to recharge cell phones in the event of an extended power failure for any disaster, but residents are urged to purchase an inexpensive plug-in style phone that requires no electrical power to use if power fails.
“Although the Weather Channel is fine to watch for long-range developments, it is better to watch local channels for more accurate information pertinent to you in the wake of an approaching storm,” Rinteln said.
Preparing for wind damage is only one side of the picture. Failure to make plans for possible flooding as well can really leave you in a bind.
A publication prepared by Boat U.S. Marine Insurance and distributed by West Marine provides an excellent resource for those of you who have boats moored at marinas and on lifts and docks in your back yard. This publication is also available on-line. Techniques for securing boats on land and water are described and illustrated. There are also similar guides offered by Sea Tow.
Rinteln recommended Golden Gate High School at 2925 Titan Way as a shelter for Capriers. He also said that Palmetto Ridge High School was an identified shelter for people with special needs. There are also pet shelters in the area. It is imperative that those who may need to use one of the latter two register with them now in case of a future emergency.
The NOAA forecast is consistent with the Weather Channel forecast, updated in mid-July, which predicted below-average activity of 10 named storms, four of which may become hurricanes, and one that may become a major hurricane.
Contact Ann Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, contact the county emergency management office at 774-8444.