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Lee County preparing for hurricane season

Florida-born and raised, Leslie Sapp has seen plenty of hurricanes.

But, Irma in 2017, was the worst, Sapp said.

“It was the worst one I’ve ever seen in it because they said category 4,” Sapp said. “Doesn’t matter on category. Only matters where you’re at.”

Sapp said Irma took half his roof and destroyed countless family pictures and vinyl records.

His roof is fixed now, but he knows to always be ready for the next storm.

“I make sure I have everything I need,” Sapp said. “I always do. First aid kit, generator, all the cables and cords … canned goods, water.”

This is what Lee County’s Director of Emergency Management  Department Sandra Tapfumaneyi wants everyone to do.

“Being prepared at all times is a recommendation. Great time to get family plan in place; know where to evacuate to; have a communications plan,” Tapfumaneyi said. “Building a kit is the next thing. Having supplies that we talked through earlier. Having that ready to go so you don’t venture out after storm with debris on the ground.”

Lee County is also applying lessons learned during Irma and will also add the new Gateway High School as a hurricane shelter. All shelters will be pet-friendly.

“Hurricane Irma was a rare storm where we evacuated a larger area than anything we’ve done in Lee County’s history,” said Tapfumaneyi. “That really drove up our number of people we saw in shelters.”

With another hurricane season during a pandemic, they’re keeping COVID in mind.

“We will plan on opening more shelters to enforce social distancing,” Tapfumaneyi said. “We are going to do best implementing social distancings in guidelines in place of opening shelters. If we need to open more we have plans in place to do that.”

The county said shelters should be your last resort. They want you to evacuate if you can.

“Leave for a day get a hotel somewhere inland,” Sapp said. “Order a pizza and then come back.”

Sapp said he is prepared but won’t wait around for another direct hit.

“If you’re in one of these things, you’re in a death trap,” Sapp said. Do not stay in one of these things.”

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Reporter:Taylor Petras
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