Storm and Yard Debris Pickup Information

In order to receive financial reimbursement, it was necessary for the City to activate a pre-positioned contract with a FEMA-approved debris management company, Ceres. Hurricane Matthew storm debris clean-up began on October 12. Since then, normal yard debris pick-up by Advanced Disposal has been postponed until at least one complete tour was done by Ceres.

The first tour will be completed by Saturday, November 5, 2016. A second tour by Ceres through the City limits will start on Monday, November 7.

Advanced Disposal will also resume the normal scheduled route for yard debris collection on Monday, November 7, as well. So far, over 1,600 tons of storm debris material has been removed following Hurricane Matthew.

Thank you for patience and assistance in making this clean-up a success.

After the Storm Reminders and Helpful Links

I’m hoping everyone weathered Hurricane Hermine’s wrath safely, but it has been over ten years since Florida has been hit with a land-falling hurricane.

If you need any reminders for what to do after a storm has passed, hopefully you will find these tips and links helpful:

After the Storm
-Do not operate any appliances that you suspect have been flooded or damaged
-Do not do any digging (to remove fallen trees) without locating utility lines (Dial 811)
-Watch for exposed nails and broken glass
-Stay away from downed power lines
-Do not wade through standing water – there could be diseases or creatures in there
-If your power is out for an extended amount of time, food in your fridge and freezers should be cooked or thrown away

For more information please visit:

Road closures:
Florida 511
Florida Highway Patrol

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has asked us to get rid of all of the standing water once it is safe to do so after the hurricane passes.

Tropical Depression NINE 2016… or Something Stronger

While it may seem calm outside right now, and Nassau County’s Emergency Operations Center facebook page says it will activate to a Level 2 (indicating a threat is looming) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, you need to pay attention to the television and radio for the newest updates on Tropical Depression NINE. Knowing when the National Hurricane Center delivers updates will keep you from wasting hours of precious time in anticipation of the newest news as the system approaches the Florida peninsula. Official updates including the progress and potential track of the storm, watches and/or warnings that may be issued, and the associated maps and graphics are updated every six hours… think 5:00 and 11 o’clock (a.m. and p.m.). In addition, interim updates come out at 2:00 and 8 o’clock. Times are set to the time zone of the center of the tropical disturbance (I think).

It has been quite some time since our last big tropical event, so we may be a bit complacent and lackadaisical while the local media focuses on the pending system. At the time I wrote this, there were no current warnings or watches up for northeast Florida, but, they will likely be issued should the system remain on the current track.

Just to be safe, this may be a good time to open the hurricane kit you have stored in the garage and see what’s in there. Is it possible that some of your emergency supplies may be expired, or were used on your most recent camping trip? I suggest you go ahead and stock up on water, baby food, diapers, and formula, medications and personal sanitary supplies, pet food, extra batteries, and non-perishable foods that will last for three to five days should we experience an extended power outage, or flooded or blocked roads. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, too.

It is a good idea to have a similar kit packed in your car in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t forget food, water, jumper cables, and a map – as signs often blow down. The GPS on your smartphone phone may finally come in handy! This may be a good time to charge those portable cell phone chargers that have been laying around the house since last Christmas, as well.

Make an emergency plan for communicating with friends, relatives, and loved ones. We use someone, not in our geographical location, as a central source for communicating with others. A large portion of our family is located in various parts of Florida, but our oldest daughter is in Chattanooga; she will be our central point of communications.

As the system approaches, it is looking like we may indeed experience sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph as it passes through Northeast Florida. Flooding and flash flooding could be an issue as the depression is expected to produce 4 to 6 inches of rain over Amelia Island by Friday morning, and up to 12 inches in some areas.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make preparations now such as filling sandbags or moving furniture, vehicles and other valuables to higher ground. You should go ahead and secure items around your home so they don’t become projectiles in the event of high winds. Items to put away or tie down include:

Yard signs (We just had “election day”)
Lawn furniture
Children’s toys
Tiki torches
Pool toys
Plants stands and shepherd hooks
Trash cans
Yard art and Landscaping “features”

Watches and Warning
A Watch = conditions are favorable for a weather event to occur.
A Warning = Weather events have been reported by spotters.

A severe thunderstorm watch would mean conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm to occur.
A severe thunderstorm warning means severe thunderstorms are occurring in the designated “warning” area.

The same with a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning. A tornado “watch” means conditions are ripe for a tornado to occur, while a tornado “warning” means a tornado has been spotted in the designated warning area. Tornadoes are very likely when these tropical systems pass over land.

Power outages and wind
Usually our electricity begins to fail when power lines are knocked down by flying debris and falling limbs. With gusts of 20 to 30 mph you can expect dead limbs to fall from trees. With winds of 30 to 40 mph, large trees begin to sway and walking can be tough; lawn furniture will blow around and trash cans will tumble over. At 41 to 50 mph, branches will break off of trees, you may see shingles blow off, and eaves can lift, too. describes “Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50 – 60 mph” and along with 60 mph winds you can expect windows to blow out and parts of your roof to fly off, and at 75 mph – structures can become compromised and debris being blown around becomes hazardous to people, and everything else in its path. And winds can become stronger if they are funneled between tight areas – such as houses that are built very close together.

Unlike a typical 30 minute summer thunderstorm, where we see strong winds and torrential rains, these tropical conditions can last for several hours.

I’m currently trying to find an “accurate” answer to when the bridges to Amelia Island are closed due to high winds.

Updates to this article may be added as warranted.

Stay safe!

Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Holiday 2014

Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Holiday 2014

Click to enlarge image

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday continues through June 8, 2014. During the holiday, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. The holiday begian at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014, and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

This tax free Florida holiday is lined up with the beginning of Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1st and lasts until November 30th each year.

Remember, when severe weather watches and warnings are issued, a “watch” means conditions are favorable for inclement weather and a “warning” means conditions are conducive for development or are expected within the warning’s geographical area.

New this year for Nassau County, Florida, are new evacuation zones effective for the 2014 Hurricane Season.

    The new evacuation zones are based on storm surge, which is water that is pushed toward the shore by the hurricane force of winds. Advancing surge, combined with normal tides, create hurricane storm tide. This can increase water levels fifteen (15) feet or more. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.
Nassau County Florida evacuation zones

Click to enlarge map

If you live on Amelia Island, it is important to realize though there are two ways on and off of the island, Hecksher Drive will be controlled and leaving the Shave Bridge as the main access point. Because the bridge could be damaged or destroyed, Baptist Medical Center will be evacuated during an “A” evacuation – actually, the entire island falls under the “A” evacuation zone.

So, while you are preparing for the 2014 Hurricane Season, it is a good idea to replenish items in your hurricane kit and the following items qualify for the Tax Free Holiday:

Selling for $10 or less:
• Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)

Selling for $20 or less:
• Any portable self-powered light source
• Battery-powered flashlights
• Battery-powered lanterns
• Gas-powered lanterns (including propane, kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel)
• Tiki-type torches
• Candles

Selling for $25 or less:
• Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP gas and kerosene containers)

Selling for $30 or less:
• Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and excluding automobile and boat batteries (listed sizes only)
• AA-cell
• C-cell
• D-cell
• 6-volt
• 9-volt
• Coolers (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Self-contained first-aid kit (already tax-exempt)

Selling for $50 or less:
• Tarpaulins (tarps)
• Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting
• Ground anchor systems
• Tie-down kits
• Bungee cords
• Ratchet straps
• Radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
• Two-way radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
• Weather band radios (self-powered or battery-powered)

Selling for $750 or less:
• Portable generators that will be used to provide light, communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage

Note: Eligible battery-powered or gas-powered light sources and portable self-powered radios qualify for the exemption even though they may have electrical cords.

The following is a short video from the National Hurricane Center, “Overview of a Hurricane.”

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National Weatherman’s Day is February 5th

National Weatherman's Day is February 5thConsidering what a winter we have had in weather, I thought it would be interesting to note that National Weatherman’s Day, always on February 5th, honors weathermen and women who work hard to accurately predict the weather.

Despite major technological advances and supercomputers, forecasting the weather is about as accurate as that of a Pennsylvania rodent. But, even a good guess is important in several ways.

We need to know how to dress the kids for school, whether or not we need an umbrella, should we make more time available for our commute, how to pack for a vacation or trip and so much more.

Knowing what to expect from our weather can even save lives from dangerous developing weather systems such as blizzares, hurricanes, wildfires and tornados.

Weatherman’s Day apparently honors the birth of John Jeffries, one of America’s first weather observers. Jeffries was born on Feb 5, 1744 and began keeping weather records in 1774 until 1816.

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Caring for Animals When Evacuating

Bentley We are in the midst of hurricane season, and with a new puppy in the home, I wanted to know what I should do in case I need to evacuate my Amelia Island home.

Our dog, Bentley (the brown puppy in the picture), like many other pets and their owners, are important members of your family, and yes, they are also affected by emergencies and natural disasters.

If you want your pet to survive a fire, flood, terrorist attack, hurricane or other tragedy, it largely depends on your emergency preparedness planning. There are things you can do today, such as include additional supplies for your pet in your hurricane kit, to be better prepared should the unthinkable occur.

Considering where you will stay during an emergency is directly impacted if you have pets. Many emergency shelters DO NOT allow pets in the facility!

You should NEVER leave your pets behind, so you need to plan now for their care should you evacuate.
-Have a pet carrier large enough for your pet.
-Pack prescriptions, foods, litter, plastic waste bags, cleaning supplies and extra water to travel with your pet.
-Plan for someone else, outside of your area, to care for your pet if you will be unable to do so.
-Relatives or friends you planned to stay with before you had a pet, may not be so willing to help you AND your pet.
-Have a back-up plan should you be away from your home when an emergency strikes.
-Find a neighbor, friend or relative willing to take your pet with them when they evacuate.
-Make sure they know where your Pet Evacuation Kit is kept.
-Have medical records and proof of shots with you.
-Your pet should wear ID tags in case you become separated.
-You keep recent pictures of your children, keep one of your pet with you, too.
-Familiar items will help keep your pets calm, such as their favorite toy, bedding or treats.
-Always have a first-aid kit for pets handy.

Even if you plan to “ride it out” during an emergency, you will need to prepare for your pet, too. Power, water and phones don’t work. Stores will likely be closed and streets impassable, so shop now so you are prepared with at least an additional three days worth of supplies for each of your pets.

Hopefully, you will be prepared and never have to use these tips to care for your animals should you need to evacuate. For additional information, please contact the Humane Society of the United States.

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Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term Forecast

Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term ForecastTropical Storm Chantal has formed and is disturbing weather in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica and other countries, but she is still a long way from Fernandina’s shores! Anyway, I’m sure we’ll chat about her more later on this week, in future forecasts for Nassau County, especially if her strength increases as predicted.

A closer area of disturbed weather will increase our chance for showers as we go thru the week. Nothing is expected to form in the next day or two, but we’ll keep an eye out for you.

July 9, 2013: Tuesday will be sunny in Fernnaidna Beach with highs in the mid 80s. Winds will come from our East at about 10 mph.
Tonight: Expect partly cloudy skies overnight with lows in the mid 70s and mild winds from the SE.
Tomorrow: Amelia Island heats up again on Wednesday with highs near 90, yes, even at the beaches. Lows will be in the mid 70s with a 20% chance of rain.
Thursday: Rains enter the forecast with a 50/50 shot of precipitation here in NE Florida. Otherwise, skies will be sunny with highs in the upper 80s. Lows will be in the mid 70s.
Friday: A good chance of showers or storms will hit us again on Friday with those sunny days heating up the overhead clouds. Lows will be in the mid to upper 70s.

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Summer Brings Lightning Dangers

Summer Brings Lightning DangersLightning Safety Week is June 23-29, 2013

Summer is upon us and along with the heat, humidity and afternoon thunderstorms we have here in Florida, this is also the season for lightning!

People can be struck by lightning all year long, but the National Weather Service tells us that summer is the peak season for injuries and death caused by lightning.

Here are some general tips to help keep you safer from lightning, both indoors and out.

Indoor Safety Tips
Stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment.
Avoid plumbing. This is not the time to take a shower.
Stay away from sinks, bathtubs, washing machines and faucets.
Stay away from porches, windows, and doors.
Never lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.

Outdoor Safety Tips
No outdoor area is safe when you hear thunder.
If you hear thunder, find a safe indoor shelter (a substantial building or enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows up).
Come down from elevated areas.
Never lie flat on the ground.
Never shelter under an isolated tree.
Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as wire fences.

Here are some lightning safety facts vs. truths

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.
Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones, Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.
Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter and don’t waste time removing metal. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.

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Family Emergency Plan Tips

Family Emergency Plan TipsMy kids are now 18 years and older, and all three of them are attending schools in three different states: Kentucky, Maryland and Florida. We realize now, that we need to update our Family Emergency Plan to include how and where we would even begin to find each other should a disaster strike.

One of the first things we did was pick a relative in an unrelated area of the country to use as a point of contact. We learned from Floyd in 1999, cellular lines were unreliable due to the sheer volume of calls being made in Florida as millions of people were being evacuated. A friend or relative in an area that would not likely be involved in your disaster is a great point of contact.

For example, we’ll use Grandma in Arizona. If the east coast is hit with a disaster we all know to call Grandma and “check in” with our status, needs and plans.

-We are all to follow up with Grandma on a regular basis.
-We all carry cell phones.
-We all are adding our emergency contacts as ICE (In Case of Emergency) to our cell phones.
-We have all learned to “text” messages, sometimes these will go through when a phone call will not

If my son calling from Maryland cannot reach me in Florida, or his sister in Kentucky because, “All circuits are busy,” he is more likely to make a successful call to Arizona.

Another subject we discussed was the school’s emergency plans. We learned on March 2, 2012, how my grandson’s school in Henryville, Indiana executed their emergency plan when their school was destroyed by a rare F5 tornado. Again, phone lines were overwhelmed and facebook became my best form of communication for several hours immediately after the devastation.

Earlier this month, at our orientation at The Florida State University they discussed their emergency plans, and asked us parents to please not call and have our kids return home if there was a hurricane forming in the Atlantic Ocean; odds are we would all be heading their direction anyway.

It is time to talk with your family and make your own Family Emergency Plan!

What about sudden disasters? What will you do if you are in church, at work, or at the grocery store? Where would you go locally to meet up? You need to know where the daycare will be evacuated to if you have children in daycare. If you work in an office building where do you go in case of an emergency?

Do you know about each others allergies, maintenance prescriptions, blood types, or identifying marks? Do you keep recent pictures of each other?

Hurricane season is upon us and with the turmoil in today’s world, your family really needs to have a year-round Emergency Plan.

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Using Social Media as a Force of Nature

Using Social Media as a Force of NatureAs we continue to participate in National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, we’ve learned that by using social media, you too, can become a Force of Nature and help others be prepared when disaster strikes!

Being prepared for severe weather is about more than just protecting your family, it’s about being an example in your community. It means sharing weather alerts, preparedness tips and other information to save the lives of others – which is easy to do with social media outlets such as facebook and twitter.

Research shows that many people do not act when they hear the first tornado siren or other weather alert. They wait for confirmation from their friends or family that a tornado is in the area before taking action to seek shelter.

Help your friends and community by not only warning them when severe weather is on the horizon, but also by spreading the word about National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and sharing the information we have been posting all week to help everyone learn what is necessary to be prepared.

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Force of Nature – Hurricane Season

Force of Nature - Hurricane Season

By: Steve Rossman

The 2013 Hurricane Season is quickly approaching and will officially start on June 1, 2013 and end on November 30, 2013. Even with these dates representing the “official” start of the season, be aware that tropical storms and hurricanes have and will happen either side of the above dates. We had a very mild taste recently, with heavy and constant rains.

If you live in a high flood risk area like we do, personal preparation is the key to avoiding disaster. Take solid steps ahead of time to ensure the safety of your family and minimize property loss, even when the flood waters come lapping at your doorstep.

By following this list of flood safety tips, your family and home will be ready when waters begin to rise.

    • Call your local “American Red Cross” office to assess your home’s flood risk.
    • Put together a supply kit including battery-powered flashlights and radio, first aid and medications, rain gear and warm clothing, sleeping bags or bedding, several days’ worth of canned foods and bottled water, and any other personal items you must have for health and safety. Let’s not forget our pet’s when packing our supplies.
    • Form a family emergency/evacuation plan. Make sure everyone knows where to go in the event of a flood warning. Make a list of those places you could go–houses of family or friends, shelters or other safe public buildings on higher ground. Provide each family member with a written list of the locations and phone numbers, preferably in order, from first to last resort.
    • Check with your insurance agent on whether or not flood insurance is available for your home. Consult a professional when making flood insurance decisions.
    • Elevate your water heater, furnace and electrical panel to minimize damage if they are in flood-prone areas of your home.

During a Flood Watch or Warning:

    • Fill your car’s gas tank at the earliest suspicion of flood-producing weather or conditions. It will be your quick getaway if the time comes.
    • Move what furniture and valuables you can to the highest floor of the house, or in single story homes, raise them off of the ground as much as possible. Do this at the onset of a flood watch.
    • Stay tuned to local TV and radio for constant updates on the weather forecast, flood level, and watches and warnings. Take all advice and warnings seriously.
    • Evacuate to higher ground as soon as a flood warning is issued. Follow your family evacuation plan while avoiding waterways at all costs. Do not drive into standing water and abandon your car immediately if it does stall in water. Search for high, dry ground, and get there as quickly as possible!

Flood waters contain many contaminates – oil, gas, and raw sewage. If your property has experienced a flood or water-loss of any kind (ruptured water heater, broken pipe, HVAC leak, etc) call AdvantaClean to clean and disinfect your property at (904) 321-9394 for your no cost estimate. Read more about all of our services by CLICKING HERE.

Like us on facebook and receive a 50% discount on a whole house duct cleaning!

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Memories of Superstorm Sandy

Memories of Superstorm Sandy
As we continue our “Force of Nature” series on SearchAmelia, I found a wonderful piece, Memories of Superstorm Sandy, written by Gaetina Hodnett. Hodnett recalls the details of that stormy night and how they could have been better prepared. Reading the first paragraph it was clear if this storm had hit Amelia Island, this could of been our story. The Hodnett family, like many of us here in Fernandina Beach, also lived less than one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” This is indeed an eye opener.

Author credit: Gaetina Hodnett

It was a cloudy Monday in late October 2012 when Superstorm Sandy approached Long Island. The weather reports were frequent and very informative; however, I didn’t think the storm would have any impact on my family because of our experience with Hurricane Irene the previous year. We live less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and sustained minimal damage after Hurricane Irene.

Throughout the day it didn’t rain much but it was very cloudy. Seeing this, I was confident that Sandy would pass through leaving us relatively unscathed. My preparation for the storm merely involved moving patio furniture from the decks and flower pots to secure places.

After speaking to our neighbors, some of them chose to leave but my husband and I decided to stay in our home and endure the storm. My husband moved my car to higher ground and left his SUV in the driveway. After the car was moved, we pulled out our candles and flashlights and felt prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

As the day progressed, I looked out my window and noticed that the sky had become very dark. The winds were heavy and torrential rains had moved in. Utility pole lines swayed rapidly and water rose quickly in my front yard. My husband put pumps in the garage to combat the water but this was a futile attempt to remedy the situation. I watched in disbelief and helplessness as I realized that even the most powerful pump could not sway the raging waters that were taking over our home. We needed to come up with a plan of action if the water didn’t stop pouring into the house.

The Hodnett's back yard.Seeing how quickly things were progressing, my husband went to turn off the main power of the house to prevent a fire and move his car to higher ground. The time that he was gone felt like an eternity and I was afraid to be alone. Thoughts raced through my mind. Could the wind have blown electric lines in the water? Would my husband be able to make his way safely back through the rapidly rising water? I thought for sure something had gone wrong because of the water, wind, and darkness. When I opened the door to go find my husband and evacuate, he was standing there and informed me that the water was too deep for us to try to navigate through. We had no choice. We had to stay put and wait out the storm.

We watched powerlessly from our window as the water continued to rise. The wind was fierce and the entire neighborhood was dark. When the water reached the third step of our high ranch home, we decided that we would climb to the roof if the water continued to rise. After the storm, the National Guard knocked on the door to assist us in evacuating our home. As we watched the waters recede after high tide, we were relieved and thankful that our home, even flooded with four feet of water, remained standing.

The first floor of the Hodnett home.After our long, dark, stormy, and windy night with Superstorm Sandy, I thought about the choices we made both before and during the storm. The choice my husband and I made will impact us for the rest of our lives. Regretfully, we were not prepared for Sandy. The cost was astronomical in the loss of sentimental items – such as pictures, videos, and other personal items – that tied us to special memories of our past. Despite that loss, I feel we are blessed to be alive and share our story.

In the future, I will be proactive in being prepared for all hurricanes and storms by following the advice and recommendations to avoid another horrific experience. My husband and I will take every storm warning seriously because every storm is different and the level of impact will be different. You never know what can happen and we won’t be taking any more chances.

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SearchAmelia is a Force of Nature

SearchAmelia a Force of NatureSearchAmelia is a Force of Nature and you can be, too!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love weather. My closest friends fondly refer to me as the Tropical Junkie. So it should come as no surprise for me to say that SearchAmelia is proudly promoting National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 3-9, 2013.

During this week we will be sharing articles and personal stories with our community to help you better prepare for severe weather threats in our area.

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort to increase awareness of severe weather and to motivate individuals, families, businesses, and communities to take actions that will prepare them in the event of severe weather.

Each year, individuals are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and other types of severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries and affects every individual.

It was March 2, 2012, when my daughter’s community was devasted by tornados that hit Southern Indiana. After his school was destroyed, my grandson, Jason, finished the school year here in Fernandina Beach. Having lived in that area myself when I was younger, I was always fascinated by thunderstorms. Where most adults I know remember school fire drills, in that area of the country we had tornado drills, too.

Know Your Risk:
The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, so everyone is exposed to some degree of risk.

Tornadoes may not be our biggest threat in Fernandina Beach, but according to, Nassau County, Florida had 28 tornadoes between March 31, 1961 and January 21, 2010. Remember, only ONE tornado can change your life forever.

Wildfires, scorching temperatures, severe thunderstorms, floods, hurricanes, and some people will include tsunamis in this list, are other weather hazards that may occur in our area.

Check the weather forecast regularly and visit to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family during emergencies.

Nassau County’s Emergency Mangement office has published a 2012 All-Hazards Preparedness Guide. CLICK HERE to review or print this pdf document.

Even Al Roker is a Force of Nature:

Pledge and Take Action:
Be Force of Nature by taking the Pledge to Prepare at When you pledge to prepare, you will take the first step to making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. This includes filling out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and check to see if your cell phone is equipped to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts and sign up for localized alerts, like CodeRed, from emergency management officials. Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts – NOAA Weather Radio,, and Wireless Emergency Alerts.

Be an Example:
Once you have taken action, share your story with your family and friends. Create a YouTube video, post your story on Facebook, comment on a blog, or send a tweet.

Studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe.

My facebook friends and family living in the Kentuckiana area kept me informed, in real time, of what was going on when the storms hit Henryville, Indiana. I was unable to reach my daughter directly. Phone lines were down and the cell towers were overloaded with calls. Messages were being sent via friends and family to communities with electricity, phone lines and internet. The first communication I received directly from my daughter was a text message I received nearly two hours after the tornadoes hit. It is interesting to mention however, she received the text messages I was sending to her; it was only her outgoing responses that were delayed.

This is also an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others. (You know… “Monkey see, monkey do” can be a VERY GOOD thing!)

While we hope to publish helpful information all week, you can learn more about the different types of severe weather such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding is available at

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