Hurricane Guide

Be Prepared

As a coastal community in South Florida, the City of Boca Raton is vulnerable to the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes. The barrier island, as well as some inland areas, particularly those near canals, may be flooded, and the entire City can experience the high winds associated with these events. 

In addition, widespread power outages can be expected. Each and every household and business should develop a hurricane plan to meet their needs. The information presented in this guide will help you to plan and to answer questions like: Should I evacuate? What kind of supplies do I need? 

Please read the following information and make your plans now.

Important Contact Information

AgencyPhone Number
Police/Fire Emergencies911
Boca Raton Citizen Information Center (during an emergency)561-982-4900
Police (non-emergency)561-368-6201
FEMA1-800-621-3362
Palm Beach County Emergency Management561-712-6400
American Red Cross561-994-2060
Florida Power & Light (FPL)1-800-468-8243
Florida Dept. Financial Services (Florida Dept. of Insurance)1-800-342-2762
During an emergency tune in to BocaTV on:
Channel 20 (Comcast)
Channel 99 (AT&T Uverse)
Channel 396 (Hotwire)
City Radio:1650AM
City Website:www.myBoca.us
Connect on Social Media (Facebook/Twitter):@citybocaraton and @bocapolice


Your Official Information Resources

When a hurricane threatens our area, the Hurricane Preparedness banner on the pbcgov.com home page becomes a Hurricane Activation banner. Clicking the Hurricane Activation banner will lead you to the Hurricane Activation web site. Information you can get before a storm includes: 

  • Disabled Assistance Program
  • Closings
  • Evacuations
  • News Briefings
  • Palm Beach International Airport Information
  • Shelter Information
  • Situation Reports 

Keep listening to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, local radio or TV stations for instructions. Watch the City of Boca Raton’s TV Channel 20 and listen to AM 1650 for local news briefings and information. Keep checking the City of Boca Raton web site for information at www.myboca.us or call 561-982-4900. Types of information that will be accessible:

  • Hurricane Preparedness Video
  • Boil Water Notices
  • Closings/Openings
  • Curfews
  • FPL information on power restoration
  • Garbage Pickup
  • Public Transportation
  • Shelter information
  • Wastewater/Sewer Systems

Local News Coverage

Local television stations have established agreements for re-broadcasting their telecasts with area radio stations. These stations will carry Emergency Operations Center briefings, live, as well as their own news coverage. Listed below are the TV stations and their radio partners. 

Local TV StationRadio Station Partner
WPBF Channel 2597.9 FM WRMF, 850 AM WFTL
WPEC Channel 1298.7 FM WKGR
WPTV Channel 5104.3 FM WSFS, 107.9 FM WEAT, 103.1 FM WIRK, 102.3 FM WMBX, 92.1 FM WRLX, 88.9 FM WQCS, 740 AM WSBR


Before the Storm 

Develop A Hurricane Plan

STEP 1: Hold a family meeting - Discuss the hazards of hurricanes. Encourage children to talk about their fears and explain some of the things you’ll be doing to keep everyone safe. Start a written list of things you’ll need to take care of before hurricane season and encourage everyone in the family to contribute their ideas.

STEP 2: Discuss whether you’ll need to evacuate - Determine whether you live in an evacuation zone and, if so, where you will go if an evacuation order is given. Going to a family or friend’s house or hotel outside the evacuation area is your best choice. If you choose to go out of town, do so well in advance of the storm. Since shelters provide for only basic needs, this should be your choice of last resort.

STEP 3: Ensure your assets are protected - Inventory your home possessions and record or photograph items of value. Review your insurance policies before hurricane season starts to ensure you have adequate coverage. Once a hurricane watch has been issued, insurers will not issue new or additional coverage. 

STEP 4: Assess your home for vulnerable areas - Do a walk-through of your home and property to evaluate your roof, windows, garage door, landscaping, etc. and determine what actions you will take. Seek professional expertise and assistance as necessary. 

STEP 5: Make a plan to protect your vehicles - Decide where you will store or park your vehicle, boat, or RV. Check your vehicle insurance policy and keep it in the same safe place as your homeowner’s policy.

STEP 6: Secure your home - Decide what actions you will need to take to protect your home and your property such as, shutters, a generator, or tree-trimming, and to keep as comfortable as possible during recovery. 

STEP 7: Determine whether anyone in your home has special needs - Discuss whether anyone in your home has special medical needs and if so, make arrangements in advance to accommodate those needs. 

STEP 8: Make a plan for your pets - Determine how you will address your pet’s needs and make a plan in case you have to evacuate.

STEP 9: Gather your supplies - Determine your family’s food, water, and medical needs and assemble your disaster supply kit according to those needs. A checklist of essential items is included in this guide. 

STEP 10: Notify others of your plan - Let family or friends know what your hurricane plan is so they can check on you in the aftermath of the storm. Establish an out-of-town contact.

Family Disaster Supply Kit 

Perishable items should be changed or replaced every six months.

Family Disaster Supply Kit
Essentials:
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight/battery-operated lanterns
  • Extra batteries
  • Hardline telephone (not cordless)
  • Solar cellphone charger 
Water:
  • 1 gallon per person per day, minimum 7-day supply, in a food-grade plastic container
  • Additional water for sanitation or pets 
Food: 7-14-day supply of non-perishable food that requires no preparation such as:
  • Dry cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned or dried fruits
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned juices
  • Ready-to-eat canned meats
  • Ready-to-eat soups
  • Quick energy snacks
First Aid Kit:
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pairs)
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • (4-6) Two-inch sterile gauze pads
  • (3 rolls) Two-inch sterile roller bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Tube of petroleum jelly
  • Sterile adhesive bandages
  • Laxative
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotic ointment 

For Baby:
  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Bottles
  • Medication
  • Powdered milk

For Pets: 
  • Food, non-tippable food, and water bowls
  • Record of vaccination 
  • Leash, harness, and carrier 
  • Extra litter
Sanitation: 
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Feminine supplies
  • Plastic bucket with a tight lid
  • Toilet Paper, towelettes
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties
  • Clear Iodine (for water purification) 

Tools & Supplies: 
  • Sun Screen 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Mosquito repellant with DEET 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Whistle
  • Aluminum Foil 
  • Crowbar 
  • Paper, pencil 
  • Plastic sheeting 
  • Medicine dropper 
  • Needle threader 
  • (2) tarps 
  • Matches in a waterproof bag 
  • Rope 
  • Cash or traveler’s checks 
  • Nonelectric can opener 
  • Duct tape 

Clothing and Bedding: 
  • Rain gear 
  • Long sleeve shirts and pants 
  • Hat and work gloves 
  • Sturdy shoes 
  • Blankets and sleeping bags 

Family Medical Needs: 
  • Insulin, testing kits
  • Prescription drugs 
  • Non-prescription drugs 
  • Extra eyeglasses, contact lenses 
  • Extra oxygen which can be used without electricity 

Important Family Documents:
  • Telephone numbers 
  • Record of bank accounts 
  • Family records, inventory of valuable goods 
  • Copy of will, insurance policies, deeds, and other important records
  • Passports and ID’s 


Before the Storm

If you are in an evacuation zone, a mobile home, or an area that is easily flooded, you must evacuate. If you are elderly, in poor health, or have special needs, it is recommended that you evacuate. If you live on an upper floor of a building and are dependent upon an elevator, you should plan to evacuate since power outages can affect your building’s elevator system. Many elevators do not have generator power, and those that do have generator power may not have enough fuel for a prolonged outage. 

There are approximately (15) shelters throughout Palm Beach County. Consider staying with friends or relatives outside the area. Shelters are often crowded and uncomfortable by their very nature but should be used if you have no other option. If you go to a shelter, be prepared for an extended stay. Do not proceed to a shelter until the media has announced that it is officially open.

If you must evacuate 

  • Have a good meal before you get on the road or go to a shelter.
  • Evacuate as soon as possible, preferably during daylight. Roads and bridges frequently become crowded and traffic moves slowly. Be sure to take a map if you are going to an unfamiliar area.
  • Unplug appliances and turn off the electricity and the main water valve. This will reduce potential damage to your appliances and the risk of fire from power surges. If you have natural gas, check with your natural gas supplier for information. 
  • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going. 
  • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone or area prone to flooding, raise furniture, photographs and other irreplaceable items to a higher place. 
  • Bring pre-assembled emergency supplies 
  • Remember – firearms, explosive devices, intoxicating beverages, and illegal drugs are not allowed in shelters. 
  • Only service animals such as guide dogs for the visually impaired, not pets, are allowed in shelters. If you bring a service animal to be sure to bring food, water, bowls and any other necessities they require. 
  • Important documents such as birth or marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, immunization records, checkbooks, and bank account files, wills, vehicle titles, insurance policies, stocks, bonds deeds, computer backup disks, etc. should be copied and secured. Take a complete set with you when you evacuate.

Suggested Items for an Evacuation Kit

  • Personal hygiene items
  • Important documents
  • Pillow, blanket 
  • Books, games
  • Depending on where you are going, you may need beverages and food which does not require cooking 
  • Maps 
  • Extra set of clothing 
  • Needed medications 
  • Driver’s license or other identification 
  • Cash or traveler’s checks 
  • Personal items such as extra eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc. 
  • First Aid Kit • Battery-operated radio 
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Infant food and supplies, as applicable

Inventory of Important Papers

  • Insurance policies, inventories
  • Bank and savings accounts
  • Mortgages, ownership papers
  • List of phone numbers of family, friends, physician, pharmacy, caregiver, etc.
  • Medical information, copy of prescriptions, health insurance, Medicare cards
  • Store all important documents in a water-resistant storage system

 Special Needs Residents

  • Notify your health agency where you will be during a hurricane and when care can be re-established.
  • If you are home-bound and under the care of a physician, but not a home health agency, contact your physician.
  • If you require oxygen, check with your supplier about their emergency plans.
  • If you evacuate, remember to take medications and prescription numbers, written instructions regarding your care, name, and numbers of physicians and pharmacies, insurance and Medicare cards, your bedding and your walker, wheelchair, canes or any special equipment.
  • Label all your special equipment with your name and contact information.
  • If you require hospitalization, you must make prior arrangements through your physician, including securing any documentation that the hospital may require prior to admitting you at the time of the storm.

Note: A caregiver should never drop an elderly and/or frail person at a medical facility without assuring that they will be admitted, which may require written documentation and prior arrangement with a physician and the hospital.

Special Needs Shelter

Palm Beach County has established a Special Needs Shelter Program to provide for citizens with certain medical problems during a major hurricane. These facilities have auxiliary power and are located in a central area, with medical supervision from physicians and nurses.

Admittance to these facilities is restricted to the following:

  • Dependence on electric medical devices
  • Dependence on supplemental oxygen
  • Certain chronic but stable illnesses that require observation or caregivers
  • Progressive Alzheimer's or Dementia

Those seeking shelter must complete an application, which can be found on Palm Beach County's website.

If you are accepted by the Special Needs Shelter, you will be responsible to bring certain items with you to the shelter, including but not limited to medication, supplies, oxygen and/or concentrators to meet your needs in the shelter and during transportation. A caregiver must accompany any client requiring direct supervision or assistance.

Notes:

  • Only service animals will be allowed in the shelter. Make pet shelter arrangements in advance.
  • Food is provided; however, clients and caregivers must provide supplemental food and all medications for the first three days.
  • Notify friends and family if you intend to evacuate to a special needs shelter.

 Storm Categories

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (The Saffir-Simpson Scale is based on sustained winds. Sustained wind is a 1-minute wind average measured at about 33 feet above the ground).

Category One Hurricane: Winds 74-95 mph

Storm surge is generally 4-5 feet above normal. Building damage primarily as a result of fallen trees and other debris. Expect damage to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees as well as poorly constructed signs. Expect coastal road flooding and pier damage.

Category Two Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph

Storm surge is generally 6-8 feet above normal. Building damage sustained as a result of debris as well as considerable damage to roofing materials, doors, and windows to buildings. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before the arrival of the hurricane center.

Category Three Hurricane: Winds 111-129 mph

Storm surge is generally 9-12 feet above normal. Some structural damage, as well as damage, sustained. Expect considerable damage to roofing materials, doors, and windows to buildings. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs destroyed. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 3-5 hours before the arrival of the hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures and larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 feet above mean sea level may be flooded. Evacuation in low-lying areas likely.

Category Four Hurricane: Winds 130-156 mph

Storm surge is generally 13-18 feet above normal. More extensive structural damage, with some complete roof structure failures. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before the arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 feet above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas.

Category Five Hurricane: Winds greater than 157 mph

Storm surge generally greater than 18 feet above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within miles of the shoreline may be required.

Source: National Hurricane Center

Note: Even a low category storm, depending on a number of factors, can cause considerable damage to your home and property. Always be prepared for a higher category storm that is predicted as the intensity of a hurricane can change up or down within hours, and winds may be significantly higher at the upper levels of multi-storied buildings. Storm surge varies by the intensity of the storm, as well as by tide and coastline factors. In general, it can range from 4-5 feet to over 18 feet and is an extremely dangerous aspect of the storm.

Note: Emergency vehicles will be taken off the road when the maximum sustained winds exceed 39 mph. They will not resume services until the windfall below 39 mph.

After the Storm

What to do nextProtect Yourself
  • Continue to monitor conditions and receive the latest instructions via local radio, TV and 1650 AM, including re-entry and curfews.
  • Avoid unnecessary road travel to allow emergency work to be completed.
  • If you are returning home following the hurricane, be aware that travel times will be long, and roadways may be hazardous.
  • Assess immediate family needs.
  • Assess immediate hazards and conditions in your area.
  • Assess damage to house and property, recording and photographing as possible
  • Observe directives regarding the disposal of garbage and storm debris.
  • Make immediate repairs that are feasible.
  • Coordinate with insurance agents, city officials for permanent repairs.
  • Assist others, when and where possible.
  • For specific concerns, call the Citizen Information Center at 561-982-4900.
  • Observe safety measures such as the following:
  • Use gas and charcoal grills outdoors only, as they can cause fires and produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • After power is restored, leave the main circuit breaker off until water has receded.
  • Do not turn on appliances that are damp or wet.
  • Leave air conditioner off until power has stabilized.
  • Use extreme care with chain saws and generators. Be aware of carbon monoxide that may come from your own or a neighbor’s generator, especially with nearby open windows.
  • Avoid downed wires and debris which can cause injury
  • Follow boil water directives, purify as necessary, and use only uncontaminated water for drinking, brushing teeth, and cleaning contact lenses.
  • Check food for spoilage