Hurricane Irma's whipping winds, driving rains and powerful surges will likely leave people in the storm's path in a sort of communication limbo.
Downed power and phone lines are common in a major storm, especially one as large as Category 5 Irma.
The state has already commanded evacuations in some areas. But, like in any hurricane, there are those who will ride out the storm — maybe for work, or maybe they can't find a way out. Or some are just plain stubborn.
Tales of headstrong Floridians abound on Twitter, where the reactions range from pleas of concern to frustrated outbursts. All this despite Florida Gov. Rick Scott's strong warning that Irma's surge "can kill you."
If you have been ordered to evacuate, do so now. Don’t wait. https://t.co/WUFNlOGrMF— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 7, 2017
Friend lives in mandatory evacuation zone in Miami and I'm afraid they won't evacuate pic.twitter.com/28NrfMYnCe— Elizabeth V ⚒ (@geolizzy) September 7, 2017
Does anyone know if they will be issuing mandatory evacuations for Martin/St. Lucie counties? I have family who won't evacuate. #Irma— Heather Mellet (@HeatherMellet) September 7, 2017
ask my best friend why he won't evacuate, his answer, "I have a tattoo appointment on Friday." 🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️— Liv 😈 (@OliviaNbby) September 7, 2017
No matter their reason for staying, keeping tabs on family staying in Irma's path can cause a bit of heartburn for fretting family and friends nowhere near the storm.
So what should one do to assure contact isn't lost with people in the eye of the storm?
FEMA has a few very practical suggestions.
Local phone lines can be jammed during a disaster, meaning calling across town can be more difficult than calling people out-of-state. FEMA suggests people keep an out-of-town contact to serve as a central point of contact for their house. Families should also identify one out-of-town meeting place in case they're separated or can't return home.
Before the storm, exchange cell phone numbers, log emergency contact numbers and household information on everyone's phones. Practice calling and texting other people in your group or family, including your out-of-town contact.
Texting is best in emergencies. Calls can jam up the network used by emergency personnel.
Keep charged batteries, a car cell phone charger and a solar charger to serve as a backup for your phone. Close out of unneeded apps, dim the brightness of your screen and refrain from watching videos or playing video games to conserve power.
If your internet is down, but still have juice in that device, try getting to one of Comcast's 137,000 Florida hotspots. The company plans to open the hotspots up to anyone who needs them. Find out where they are here.
Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman
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