As Idalia approaches Florida’s Gulf Coast, it is important to ensure that you and your family are prepared. Whether it’s your first hurricane season or your 30th, review these tips and the effects major storms have on our wildlife to keep both them and your family safe.
Sustainable Hurricane Tips
The number one priority during a major storm is your safety, but preparedness does not need to mean additional waste. Don’t throw your green habits to the impending winds. Instead of purchasing dozens of single-use plastic water bottles, take stock of the containers you likely already have in your home. Large sports coolers, Tupperware, and those water bottles waiting in your recycling bin are just as effective at storing clean water. Avoid long lines at the store, where palettes of water are most likely already sold out, and fill enough drinking water for at least one gallon of water per day for each person and each pet.
Stay aware of your evacuation zone as the storm approaches. If you do choose to leave, ensure you turn off and unplug any appliances or electronics prior to leaving. Not only does this save energy on what may be a strained power grid in your absence, but it will help prevent damage to your electronics.
Unusual heavy rainfall can cause flooding in areas where burrowing owls live, particularly open prairies. Burrowing owls may be found in unusual places post-storms as they wait for their burrows to drain. It’s important to give this state-designated threatened species its space as their habitat recovers.
You are more likely to see snakes with higher water levels post-storm. Most snakes you will encounter are likely to be nonvenomous and will be more scared of you than you are of them. If you see a snake, stay back. Snakes are not aggressive toward humans unless they feel threatened, but keep your eyes peeled when clearing debris post-storm.
The storm surges and high waves associated with hurricanes can destroy or erode nesting beaches for sea turtles, washing away and burying them under debris, resulting in the loss of countless eggs and hatchlings, thereby impacting their reproductive success. In addition to nesting disruptions, hurricanes can also impact the foraging and migratory patterns of sea turtles. The strong currents and changes in water temperatures can displace sea turtles from their preferred feeding grounds, forcing them to find alternative sources of food.
Hurricanes often lead to an increase in fish kills due to changes in salinity and low dissolved oxygen in the water. Use the Fish Kill Hotline to report major fish kills to FWC throughout hurricane season: 800-636-0511.
Manatees can become trapped or stranded during major storms. After Hurricane Hermine in September 2016, seven manatees were stranded in the golf course pond at the Plantation on Crystal River. If you are aware of a stranded, trapped, injured or dead manatee, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.
Our Foundation works to address both the societal and environmental losses caused by hurricanes. The powerful winds and storm surge can cause extensive property damage and threaten lives. During the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022, our Foundation supported affected FWC employees by providing over $150,000 to aid in relocation assistance, loss of personal property, and home repair.