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Guest Column

Preparing for hurricane season

By GAIL TIERNEY
Published March 22, 2007


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Forecasters are predicting a more-active-than-usual 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, with at least 14 named storms expected. Hurricane season begins June 1, which is right around the corner, and runs through Nov. 30.

That's why the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Section is urging citizens with special needs to register now in order to be prepared. To help facilitate this process, the Sheriff's Office has posted the Voluntary Special Needs Program registration form on its Web page.

Special Needs is a voluntary program that provides evacuation assistance and sheltering to mobility-impaired or medically challenged residents before severe weather strikes. By registering, you'll be notified by emergency management officials of the need to evacuate for reasons that include natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires or floods, man-made emergencies (like major railway, highway or air travel accidents) or technological disasters (such as hazardous materials spills or nuclear power plant incidents).

To register, simply log on to the Sheriff's Office Web site at www.sheriffcitrus.org. Click on the Special Needs Registration form indicated at the top of the home page and download it to your printer. Fill out the form completely, make sure all information is correct and the form is signed, and mail it to:

Voluntary Special Needs Program, Citrus County Sheriff's Office Emergency Operations Center, 3425 W Southern St., Lecanto, FL 34461. Phone: 746-6555, fax: 746-6696.

Upon receipt of the completed and signed Special Needs form, emergency management officials will enter each individual's name and information into a confidential database. Registration must be renewed each year. The EOC will verify and update the records of all registered individuals prior to the beginning of hurricane season on June 1.

Residents who don't have computer access also may call 746-6555 for more information or to have a Special Needs registration form mailed to them.

The EOC also wants to remind residents to register for the CodeRED Emergency Notification System. This ultra-high-speed telephone communication system is Internet-based and allows emergency personnel to notify residents in the county when emergencies strike. With hurricane season just a few months away, act now to make sure you'll be notified via telephone of any severe weather events.

To register, log on to the Sheriffs Office Web site at www.sheriffcitrus.org. Then click on the CodeRED registration form indicated at the top of the home page, fill it out online and click submit. Or call 746-6555 to register by phone or to check on your CodeRED status.

If your number is listed in the telephone directory, your information is probably already entered in the CodeRED database. Remember, you always have the option of adding a cell phone number or more alternate numbers if you so choose.

Gail Tierney is the public information officer for the Citrus County's Sheriff's Office and can be reached at 726-4488, ext. 311 or e-mail to gtierney@sheriffcitrus.org.

[Last modified March 22, 2007, 01:23:40]


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