Florida is known for its diverse weather conditions, often creating potential for hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, heavy rain and flash flooding. Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th. Pasco Sheriff’s Office encourages citizens to prepare now, before a storm affects our area.
It’s vital to plan before a storm to ensure you have necessities. Make sure your emergency kit is well stocked with supplies including water, food, prescriptions, first aid items, batteries and other important items. If you live in a flood-prone or low-lying area, consider having sandbags prepared at the start of storm season to avoid searching for them when a storm is near. Make sure you have copies of important documents, such as insurance information, stored in a waterproof area that you can easily grab in an evacuation. Throughout a storm, follow updates from battery-operated devices in the event of a power loss.
After a storm, many citizens want to start the clean-up process quickly, but be cautious when doing so. Flooded areas may have hidden dangers, such as downed power lines, debris or wildlife lurking inside. Give emergency personnel ample time to clear roadways of debris before driving, unless absolutely necessary. Be mindful of any curfews in place, and follow them to stay safe. When clearing your own property, be mindful of debris and power lines, and remember to give yourself ample time for breaks while working. Be sure to evaluate your damage carefully and know when to contact authorities for assistance.
PSO’s Deployable Emergency Response Team (or DERT) provides aid in emergency situations where traditional resources are not effective. This unit includes specialty vehicles, such as high water rescue vehicles, humvees, a mobile kitchen and a mobile command bus to establish a command post in a disaster area following a storm, should traditional command posts become unusable or inaccessible. PSO can deploy this equipment to assist in rescuing citizens from flooded areas or to deliver supplies to those areas made inaccessible by flood waters.
DERT achieves this in a self-sufficient manner, to support communities without becoming a burden on resources. The equipment was obtained through a federal program which allows law enforcement agencies to purchase equipment at a fraction of the cost and provides potentially life-saving equipment to our area. As Pasco County is often prone to flooding and has many rural areas, this equipment can make a difference after a significant tropical storm.
DERT trains monthly to practice efficient setup and ensure all equipment is ready when needed in an emergency. DERT is available to assist when needed, no matter the time of year. While DERT’s primary purpose is to serve Pasco County, other agencies can request the support of DERT. In 2018, DERT deployed to Florida’s panhandle, following the devastation of Hurricane Michael. They established and maintained an emergency operations center after facilities in the area were destroyed in the storm.
Planning for hurricane season in Florida is vital to ensure our citizens’ safety. Preparing in advance of the storm by having resources within PSO allows us to serve our citizens no matter the conditions. PSO is proud to provide our community with specialized units and equipment such as DERT.
Pasco Sheriff’s Office
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– Charles Spurgeon