If anything is predictable in Florida it is that each summer the weather will be very warm and humid, and everyone should be keeping an eye on the tropics and preparing for the coming hurricane season.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season has yet to officially begin (June 1-Nov. 30), yet there has already been one named storm – Tropical Storm Ana. This is the seventh year in a row that a there has been an early named storm. While Ana was never a threat to the Diocese of Venice, it serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that these ferocious storms can form at any time and early preparation is the key to safety and survival.
With names such as Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa next on the list for potential storms, preparation and vigilance are keys to safety and security from the power of nature should a storm threaten.
While early storms do not necessarily promise this year will be worse than any other season, experts stress it only takes one storm to strike your home to make it a bad season.
Factors such as warm surface water in the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, along with weak tropical trade winds and a strong West African monsoon, point to another busy year for hurricanes, which typically peak in August and September.
Experts are predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected.
“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
There were a record 30 named storms in 2020, 14 of them hurricanes and seven categorized as major hurricanes. Hurricane Eta came closest to the Diocese of Venice brushing the coast with tropical storm force winds on Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). The season was remembered mostly for the four named storms that crashed into the Louisiana coastline. Only the disastrous 2005 season, which brought 15 hurricanes, including the notorious Katrina and Rita, has generated more.
Southwest Florida is no stranger to these storms with Hurricane Irma in 2017 leaving behind a trail of destruction and despair in its wake and a year later we saw Hurricane Michael devastate the Florida Panhandle.
To best prepare for a storm, having an emergency plan is crucial. Simple things people need to know or do, include: know what evacuation zone you live in (updated annually); have more than one evacuation route; have key documents ready in a waterproof container; know where the nearest emergency evacuation shelter is; have a disaster supply kit with essentials, including enough food, water and medications for a minimum of three to seven days. For a list of the essentials for a disaster supply kit, please visit Ready.gov (English) or Listo.gov (Spanish).
To help Floridians gather supplies ahead of time, the 2021 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs from May 28 through June 6. This tax holiday allows for the purchase of essentials from batteries and flashlights to generators all tax free. For a complete list of eligible items, please visit https://floridarevenue.com/disasterprep.
For those who may need help in evacuating, such as the elderly or handicapped, they must contact their county emergency management office to register for evacuation assistance. These systems are updated each year, therefore registering in the past will not guarantee being on a list for 2021.
Should disaster strike, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Venice Inc. will be at the forefront in preparing and responding. Catholic Charities would send a team to the epicenter of the disaster and then coordinate to set up relief centers — called PODs, which stands for Points-Of-Distribution – where the need is greatest. These centers – often located at Parishes or next to Catholic Charities offices – will be sites where water, clothing, food and other disaster relief assistance can be distributed.
Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira said the organization annually updates its disaster preparedness plan. This is done in coordination with Catholic Charities offices in Florida and Catholic Charities USA, as well as with the Florida Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Updates include learning lessons from past disasters around the country in order to better respond in the future.
The Diocese of Venice is also well versed in responding to these storms. Each Parish, Catholic school and other entities have hurricane preparedness plans which assists in preparation before a storm and recovery afterwards.
As we enter the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1-Nov. 30), a prayer is presented here by which one asks God for protection and safety from the storms that often threaten Southwest Florida. With the formation of Tropical Storm Ana in mid-May, it promises to be another busy season of watching the tropics. We must all remember the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma from 2017 and what was witnessed when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle in 2018. Everyone in the Diocese of Venice knows and understands the power of these storms and the suffering which follows in their wake.
Prayer for Safety in Hurricane Season
O God, Master of this passing world,
hear the humble voices of your children.
The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order
and returned to its former quietude.
You are still the Master of land and sea.
We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control:
the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant,
can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.
During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father.
Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid
and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of time.
O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you
to plead with your Son on our behalf,
so that spared from the calamities common to this area
and animated with a true spirit of gratitude,
we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son
to reach the heavenly Jerusalem,
where a stormless eternity awaits us. Amen.
Oración para la temporada de huracanes
O Dios, Señor de este mundo pasajero,
escucha la humilde voz de tus hijos.
El Mar de Galilea obedeció Tu orden
y volvió a su anterior quietud.
Tu todavía eres el Señor de tierra y mar.
Vivimos en la sombra del peligro sobre el cual no tenemos control;
el Golfo, como un violento gigante, puede despertar de su aparente letargo,
sobrepasar sus límites, invadir nuestra tierra y sembrar caos y desastre.
Durante esta temporada de huracanes acudimos a Ti, O Padre Misericordioso.
Líbranos de tragedias como las pasadas que están tan vivas en nuestra
memoria y cuyas heridas rehúsan ser curadas con el paso del tiempo.
O Virgen, Estrella del Mar, nuestra amada Madre, te pedimos
que intercedas ante tu Hijo por nosotros,
para que nos libre de las calamidades comunes a esta área,
y animados con un verdadero espíritu de gratitude
caminemos en los pasos de tu Divino Hijo
para llegar a la Jerusalén Celestial,
donde una eternidad sin tormentas nos espera. Amen.