How I love summer in Broward County - the mercury and the humidity race to see which can go higher; kids play in the streets and in the parks; there are no lines to get a table at a restaurant; and it rains every afternoon! But it is time to step back and savor signs of progress as a cautious optimism about the economy is stirring and it is visible across the county. Homes are selling again. The roads around the airport construction are opening up. The new courthouse has taken shape. And the “new” I-595 is finally open and operational.
It is also the time when people in South Florida happily anticipate summer activities and not so happily anticipate hurricane activity. This Newsletter contains a wealth of valuable information to help you have an enjoyable summer and be prepared for any hurricane activity. Have a great summer – and see you in the fall.
But first…. The FEMA Flood Maps are finally done.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has finalized the updated Flood Maps and, they go into effect on August 18, 2014. At that time, banks and other lenders will require residents and business owners with mortgaged property designated in high risk flood zones to purchase flood insurance if they don’t already.
The good news - the maps indicate that nearly 75 percent of the homes in District 5 have a reduced risk of flood. Check with your mortgage company for its policy on flood insurance before changing or canceling your policy.
For more information and to view the new maps – Flood Maps.
If you have questions or believe your designation is incorrect, call the FEMA Map Exchange toll free at (877) 336-2627 for assistance.
SUMMER ON A BUDGET
You do not have to spend a small fortune and hours on a road trip to have a great summer. Check out Sunny.org for a list of all the attractions that tourists fly to our backyard to see. Here are just a few insider ideas for Broward County residents.
Parks?!? Don’t scoff. Broward County Parks are the most often overlooked local opportunity. Admission is typically free with only modest fees for some services. There are batting cages, boat rentals, water-skiing, cricket fields, disc golf, riding trails, dog parks, exhibit halls, fishing, a model airplane field, a model steam railroad, mountain bike trails, an observatory, public art displays, skate parks, water parks, a target range, and virtually every kind of sport under the sun – not to mention free Wi-Fi if your idea of surfing is on the Internet. For more detail, see Things to Do.
The county also offers summer camp opportunities with an emphasis on science, nature, even horseback riding. For more detail, see Summer Camps.
2 for 1
Do you have a spouse, a child, a parent, or just a friend? Then save on dozens of attractions with a 2-for-1 coupon for a wide array of films, golf, meals, shopping sprees, cruises, museums, tours, diving, spa visits, and much more. For more detail, see 2 for 1.
The Broward County Library System has numerous programs for children of all ages – there are summer reading programs with many activities including science-based puppet shows and experiments, music and theater performances, engineering activities, arts & crafts, book clubs, and story times. For more detail, see Library Programs.
It only takes one. Weather forecasters are predicting fewer named hurricanes this season. But we in Florida know it only takes one. Think Andrew and Wilma.
Even relatively mild hurricanes can knock out power and essential services for days. Broward County government, retailers, and utility providers have significantly reduced downtime, but it is up to every individual and family to take responsibility for their property.
Responsibility simply means preparations. It is time to move “hurricane preparations” to the top of your to-do-list. The goal is simple: Imagine that you will have to be completely self-sufficient for at least three days. That means stockpiling essentials like food and water, to figuring out ways to keeps the kids occupied, to knowing how you will cope with interruptions of utilities.
The county has put together a great deal of easy-to-follow information on the Broward County website Broward.org/Hurricane, on how to prepare, what to do during a storm and what to do after the storm. But print them out now. Your computer may not be operational even before the storm closes in.
For further information, access the following on-line resources:
Here are a few special tips you do not usually hear about…
Plan in advance with your neighbors for mutual support. For example, determine who has a chainsaw, coffeepot, or landline telephone. And who will watch the kids while the adults cope. Also identify any elderly, infirm, or ailing neighbors and check in on them before and after the storm.
Do you have a landline phone? Will you have power for cellphones? How will your friends and family be able to contact you? Remember the public libraries have computers for public use if they have power.
Copy paper documents and store them at some other location. Do the same with your computer files – back them up on a flash drive and store it away from the house. Make sure this includes your address book, as well as computer passwords, credit card numbers, and bank/checking account numbers.
The key to making these traumatic challenges easier to handle, especially in the nerve-wracking days as the storm approaches, is to know you are as prepared as you can be.