Here are some questions commonly asked by media and customers when a hurricane is threatening our service area.
City of Fort Meade staff members meet regularly to assess the situation and update our strategies and plans. Of course, repair personnel will be making repairs to the system. However, many office workers will be out in the field supporting those repair crews. They also may serve as guides to out-of-town repair crews, using chain saws to remove debris from Fort Meade facilities, or serving meals to restoration crews.
When a hurricane threatens Fort Meade, we begin notifying those utilities and companies with which we have mutual aid agreements and contracts so they will be ready should we need them. Bartow has agreements and contracts with other electric utilities, food vending companies, fuel suppliers, tree-cutting services and other vendors to assist and support the restoration effort.
The standard recommendations are always prudent:
- get enough bottled water for several days (rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day)
- make sure you have a battery-powered radio and flashlights and plenty of batteries (NOT candles)
- board up windows (masking tape is not recommended)
- secure lawn furniture, etc.
Here are a few ideas you may not have thought of
- Capture water in your water heater by turning off power to the unit, and then close the water valves. This way if you lose water pressure, you will have about 40 gallons of fresh water stored in the tank.
- Store additional water in your bathtub, and fill the washing machine with water, too. This water supply can be used later for cleaning or to operate your toilet
- Make sure you have a can opener that doesn’t need electricity.
- Get some Fix-a-Flat tire sealant to quickly repair and inflate tires damaged by debris after the storm.
- Make sure you have a regular, corded phone. Cordless phones will not work when the power is off. Fully charge cell phones.
City of Fort Meade staff will begin a field assessment of the damage. This effort could take several days, depending on the level of damage the system sustains. Customers should keep in mind that stopping the staff to ask questions will slow down this assessment and can also slow down the overall restoration effort. After the assessment is complete, the City will have a better idea of how long it will take to restore service to customers. Also during this time, the City will be communicating updates through local media outlets about outages, where crews are working and the progress being made.
If your power is on, the City of Fort Meade encourages you to keep your front porch/flood light on – day and night – which will help our assessment teams further focus their attention on homes and facilities where power needs to be restored.
When the storm has safely cleared, we encourage you to assess your own damage, too. Once City crews have cleared away any electric lines, the homeowner is responsible for tree removal on the homeowner’s property. The City will clear from the lines only that section of a tree or limb that prevents a crew from repairing the City wires. All clean up from a broken or fallen tree and/or limb is the responsibility of the property owner. The City will not remove limbs or trees from wires that are NOT the City’s, which includes Phone and Cable TV wires. The City will NOT remove any limb or any part of a tree that is on a structure or building.
Likewise, any damage to the weatherhead (the device where the electric line attaches to the home) must be repaired by a licensed electrician before the City can safely reconnect your power.
circuits are out and begin repairing them first. Once the circuits are restored, the City will ask you – through the local media – to begin calling in with your individual outage information.
REGISTER FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
To determine a hurricane evacuation route, visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. During an emergency please monitor Polk County Government Television, other local television and radio stations for open shelter information. Have a 72-hour survival kit ready to take with you. Citizens Info Line 1-866-661-0228.
If you are a customer that is medically dependent on electricity for oxygen or other equipment, please make sure you have a backup generator in place or additional power backup. Utilities typically cannot respond to customers with special needs during or immediately after a storm. Have an evacuation plan and know special needs shelter locations. If you or someone you know has special electrical medical equipment needs, notify the electric utility prior to the storm’s arrival.
A special needs shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting. Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should pre-register with Polk County Emergency Management Special Needs Program at (863) 298-7027.
If you use a portable generator: DON’T run a generator in the house, DON’T run a generator in the garage, and DON’T plug a generator directly into a house’s main electrical system. The first two could lead to suffocation and the third could send an electrical charge back to the power grid, which would create an electrocution hazard for utility workers. DO set up generators outside in a well-ventilated area, and DO plug individual appliances directly into the generator.
For More Information, visit: Polk County Emergency Management
Police or Fire Emergency 911
Fort Meade City Hall (863) 285-1100
Polk County Sheriff’s Office (863) 285-1100 ext. 230
Polk County EOC (863) 519-7478
Polk County Drainage (863) 535-2200
Florida Public Utilities Emergency Response (Gas) (800) 427-7712
Here are a few websites to keep you updated:
NOAA - Plan for a Hurricane
Polk County EOC
Hurricane Tips: The City of Fort Meade
- Following a power outage, unplug all of your large appliances and electronics to prevent power surges when electricity is restored, which can often damage equipment and create fire hazards.
- Remember the "three dont's" when using generators: Don't run a generator in the house; Don't run a generator in the garage; and Don't plug the generator directly into your home's main electrical system. The first two can lead to asphyxiation, and the third can send an electrical charge back into the power grid, posing an electrocution hazard to utility workers.
- If your home is flooded, turn off your electrical power until a professional inspects it thoroughly.
- If you smell gas, evacuate immediately and contact your gas company's emergency number. (800)427-7712
- Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification check points before being allowed access to your home or neighborhood.
- After the storm, check to see if your home's weatherhead is damaged - it is located above the electric meter. Utility workers cannot reconnect service if this piece of equipment (which is the homeowner's responsibility) is damaged. If your weatherhead needs repair, please contact a licensed electrician.
- Utilities often cannot respond to customers with special needs during or immediately after a storm. When warned of an incoming storm, make an early decision to evacuate people with special needs. Know the location of special needs shelters in case you are unable to evacuate. If you or someone in your family has special electrical medical equipment needs, notify your electric utility prior to a storm's arrival.
- Visit FloridaDisaster.org to determine your hurricane evacuation route.
- Capture water in your water heater by turning off power to the unit and closing the water valves. If you lose water pressure, you will have about 40 gallons of fresh water stored in the tank. Store additional water in your bathtub and fill the washing machine with water. This water supply can be used for cleaning or to operate your toilet.
- Clear your patio and yard of lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, and other debris that could blow around in high winds and cause damage or injury.
- Prior to the storm, identify the places around your home where gas, water and electricity can be shut off. In an emergency, you'll want to be able to turn them off quickly.
- Create a hurricane survival kit that includes: first aid supplies; water; batteries; flashlights; battery powered radio; manual can opener; prescriptions; baby food and diapers; pet food; canned foods; cash; tarps; rope; bleach; trash bags; charcoal or gas grill with plenty of fuel; wooden kitchen matches; and a portable cooler. Don't forget a hardwired phone. Cordless phones will not work during a power outage.