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Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide: Preparing for the Next Big Storm

southwest florida hurricane guide

Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide: Preparing You for the Next Big Storm

The morning after Hurricane Irma slammed into Southwest Florida, Tia Willin left her hideout at 7 a.m. Her phone had started ringing before the storm hit and Facebook messages from across the world were flooding in. “First it was friends who had evacuated,” she said. “And then it was friends of friends, and then their friends. It was crazy!” They all had the same request: would she please go look at their home?

Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide

Photo by NASA of Hurricane Irma

It was a daunting task made even more difficult by downed trees and power lines. “You know, we stayed and weathered a monster storm,” she joked, “but somehow we just couldn’t handle out of order traffic lights!”  Tia was able to make it to 4 homes that morning before turning back. “The roads were just too bad and people weren’t driving safe. I just couldn’t check them all.”

Southwest Florida: Your Home Away from Home

One of the wonderful parts of Southwest Florida is how many seasonal residents we get to share our area with each year. Nearly every neighborhood has a home that sits empty during the height of hurricane season, waiting for its season residents to reappear. 

If you are a seasonal resident, you likely make a point of getting to know at least one neighbor. You trust them to look after your home while you’re gone and give a call if something is amiss. But there are a few problems with relying on seasonal neighbors during hurricane season.

  • People move. The neighbor you met last year might not be there when you return.
  • People evacuate. We saw the largest evacuation ever during Irma, and most evacuees report they’d do it again.
  • People have other obligations. “I checked my parents’ home, my home, a friend’s home, and the home of someone who contacted me from Scotland,” Tia shared. “Those were the only ones I could get to before I had to start my own cleanup and recovery.”

So how can seasonal residents prepare for hurricane season? We’ve created the Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide to help.

Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide for Seasonal Residents

Before you leave Florida in the spring:

  1. Do a walk through of your home and check for any new damage. Make repairs before you leave, especially to roofs, foundations, windows, and walls.
  2. Hire a tree service to cut back trees close to your home. Sign a contract with them so that they’ll return while you’re away- remember: summer is our rainy season, those trees will grow fast- and keep the trees trimmed. 
  3. Make sure you have hurricane shutters and all of the nuts and bolts. Do not place them on your windows before you leave. Nothing says “Loot Me!” louder than storm shutters placed on windows in the spring.
  4. If you don’t have storm shutters, buy 3/4 inch plywood and have it cut to fit all of your windows. It’s much easier to buy plywood in March than when a hurricane is coming.
  5. Contract with a Home Watch Service. Preferably your Home Watch Service will have a list of local handymen they can call to put up hurricane shutters should one approach the coast and remove them when the threat has passed. 

Why Home Watch?

A home watch service is more than a once a month drive by or walk through; they’re your most valuable partner during hurricane season. Not only can they assure that your shutters are put up and taken down and report back about your lawn, pool, and tree services, they can also check your home for damage after any storm and get pictures to you quickly.

southwest florida hurricane guide

Of course your other choice is to contact random strangers on Facebook and hope they have a chance to check out your place for you. You might get lucky. But who wants to rely on luck when caring for their home away from home?

If you’re a seasonal resident of Southwest Florida in need of home watch service, All U Need Pest Control offers the service you’re looking for. Not only will we keep your home pest free while you’re away, we can also keep you in the loop before and after a storm. Give us a call today to start your home watch service. In the meantime, we hope our Southwest Florida Hurricane Guide gave you an easy checklist that will lead to peace of mind. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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