September 5 marks 10 years since Hurricane Frances hit Florida and brings timely reminders to be prepared for hurricanes.
Floridians were still recovering from Hurricane Charley as Frances bore down on the east coast of Florida three weeks later. Frances was as big as the state of Texas and twice the size of Charley. As Frances moved slowly over the ocean and approached the coast, orders were given and 2.8 million residents of 41 Florida counties evacuated—the largest evacuation in Florida's history since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Frances made landfall on Florida’s east coast as a Category 2 hurricane early on September 5, but Titusville's Emergency Management Team was monitoring the storm and issued directives for department preparations August 30. The City's Emergency Operations Center was opened September 3 and staffed full time until the evening of September 6 when the storm exited Florida. The Emergency Operations Center ramped down staffing as the resulting issues were dealt with, but continued operating on a scaled-down capacity until September 20 when the majority of the infrastructure damage and debris were dealt with.
Fire Chief Michael Woodward and the City's Emergency Manager reminds everyone, "While Hurricane Frances is remembered for the evacuation, situations requiring people to leave their homes, can happen without warning. Hurricanes may give residents a day or two to move to a safer location, but a fire, chemical spill or transportation accident may require immediate evacuation. Many disasters allow little time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning now is essential."
Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare
September marks National Preparedness Month, and this week’s anniversary of Hurricane Frances is an opportune time to plan how to ‘Reconnect and Reunite with Family Following a Disaster.’ Take time this week to talk with your family about where you will meet and how you will contact each other if separated. Develop plans, including knowing your evacuation zone and routes, ahead of the next severe storm. Information to help you make a family emergency plan is at www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov. Start your plan today! National Preparedness Month culminates on September 30.
Following Hurricane Frances, FEMA provided:
- Nearly $412 million in grants to more than 229,500 applicants through the Individuals and Households Program for lodging expenses, rental assistance, minor home repairs and other needs assistance;
- Nearly $2.5 million for Disaster Unemployment Assistance;
- More than $649 million for emergency protective measures, or for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and public utilities;
- More than $99 million in funding for mitigation projects to help reduce damage from future storms.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provided:
- More than $227 million in low-interest disaster loans to nearly 11,000 renters and homeowners;
- More than $200 million to nearly 2,000 businesses.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.