Hurricane Guide




A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of at least 74 mph) are possible in the announced area within 48 hours. A Hurricane Watch should trigger your family’s disaster plan, and proactive measures should be initiated such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.

A Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of at least 74 mph) are expected in the announced area within 36 hours. Once a Hurricane Warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing proactive actions and moving to the safest location to be during the storm.


This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.
Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and also require preventative measures.

Category 1

(74-95 mph winds)

Dangerous winds will produce some damage. The damage is primarily contained to shrubbery, trees, foliage and unanchored homes; damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters could result.

Category 2

(96-110 mph winds)

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Considerable damage to shrubbery and tree foliage; some trees blown down. Major damage to exposed mobile homes. Some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some window damage. No major damage to buildings.

Category 3

(111-129 mph winds)

Devastating damage will occur. Large trees blown down. Major damage to and removal of roof; some window and door damage. Some structural damage to small buildings. Mobile homes destroyed. Serious flooding at coast and many structures near coast destroyed; larger structures near coast damaged by battering waves and loose debris.


(130-156 mph winds)

Catastrophic damage will occur. Severe damage to roofing materials, windows, doors and exterior walls. Complete failures of roofs on many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding and battering by waves and debris. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.


Category 5

(157+ mph winds)

Catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed. Complete failure of roofs on many residences and industrial buildings. Extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors. Small buildings overturned or blown away. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 15 feet above sea level within 500 yards of shore.


Hurricane season begins June 1st. To avoid shortages or long lines, and to ensure you have the necessary items on hand for a storm, you should acquire and maintain nonperishable disaster items such as canned food, batteries, bottles of water, etc. prior to, or by, June 1st and maintain this stock of disaster preparedness items through the entire Hurricane Season, which ends November 30th each year.

Below are some resources which may help you before, during and after a natural disaster. Please note that some resources may only be accessible after a State of Emergency has been declared and may be limited by impact, severity and region.


• For information on preparing  for a hurricane or other disaster, visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management at
• Additionally, explore the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster preparedness resources at


• In the event of a medical emergency or apparent criminal activity, call 911.
• If you have an immediate housing need, text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362 to find a FEMA shelter in your area or visit You may also visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management at for an index of Florida shelters by county.
• If you have an immediate need for food, water or shelter, call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROS (1-800-733-2767).
• To see what storm-related watches, warnings or advisories are in effect for your area, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at and scroll down to select the state or county of your choice.
• To determine whether your county or neighborhood is under a boil water notice or for additional information on ensuring water is drinkable, visit the Florida Department of Health at
• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a toll-free, multilingual and confidential support services hotline 24/7 through their Disaster Distress Helpline at
• To find out what referral services are available in your community, call 211.


• Legal assistance is available to qualifying Floridians through a partnership between The Florida Bar Association and the American Bar Association. For more information, visit
• The Florida Justice Technology Center provides informational resources as well as a list of organizations that offer legal help to qualifying Floridians at
• The Florida Bar’s disciplinary rules prohibit attorneys from soliciting individuals in person or by phone offering legal services unless they have been specifically asked to do so. Additionally, only licensed attorneys may offer legal advice or services. Ensure your attorney is licensed and in good standing at Report any suspected unethical or unfair behavior as well as any unlicensed practicing of law to The Florida Bar’s Attorney Consumer Assistance Program at 1-866-352-0707.
• Bay Area Legal Services’ Florida Veterans Legal Helpline provides assistance to veterans on a range of legal issues such as housing, family law, consumer and veterans benefit matters.
Contact the Helpline at 1-866-486-6161.


• Those experiencing financial losses due to a hurricane may be eligible for FEMA Disaster Assistance. To determine your eligibility or to apply for assistance, visit or call1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). There is no fee to apply or to receive assistance.
• Immediate foreclosure relief may be available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to individuals located in federally designated disaster areas. For more information visit or
• In the event of a disaster, the Governor has the option to activate the Emergency Bridge Loan Program via executive order. A bridge loan, facilitated by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is a short-term, interest-free loan offered to support businesses that experience physical or economic damage due to a hurricane. For more information,

• Disaster loans may be available from the U.S. Small Business Administration to qualifying
businesses to cover losses not fully paid for by insurance or other relief methods. For more information, visit There is no fee to apply for or receive assistance.

• Disaster Unemployment Assistance may be available through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to qualifying Florida residents whose jobs were adversely affected due to a hurricane. For more information, visit and enter “Disaster Unemployment Assistance” in the search box at the top of the webpage.

• The Florida Department of Children and Families may offer additional emergency services to Floridians during times of disaster. For more information, visit

• Contact your lenders, financial institutions and service providers to see what programs they may offer. Following a hurricane or other disaster, many businesses institute programs to ease the financial burdens on their customers during the aftermath by restructuring or delaying payment plans, waiving late fees, forgiving overages and more. From mortgage servicers to phone plan providers, contact the institutions you use to determine what your options are. Prior to signing up, be sure you understand any requirements the program may have such as additional fees, accrual of interest and doubling of your next monthly payment.