Monday, February 6

As Ian approaches, make a plan to stay safe | Editorial

Florida’s luck has seemingly run out. Barring a meteorological miracle, we have a day, maybe two, before a major storm slams into a stretch of our Gulf coast and tears a path across the state. We don’t know where Hurricane Ian will hit and we don’t know how big and powerful it will be by the time it arrives. But we know what the aftermath is likely to look like: Roofs ripped off, streets in low-lying areas under several inches of muddy water, hundreds or thousands of homes and businesses without power.

Misery. If not for us, for our fellow Floridians to the north, south or west.

It’s too late to do the things that offer the best protection against storm winds. Plywood may be available in parts of the state and homeowners can still clear away overhanging limbs, yard debris and other potential projectiles. But big repairs will have to wait. And no company will issue a property insurance policy with a big storm on the horizon.

We also know that if Hurricane Ian deals Florida a major blow, the pain is likely to be felt statewide. As property insurance companies across Florida have hiked rates dramatically, handed out tens of thousands of cancellation notices or flat-out collapsed, property owners have been herded into state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, which over the past three years has more than doubled the number of policies it holds. If the state ends up with a giant liability, it could suck the state’s reserve fund dry.

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Even worse, state officials say more Floridian property owners are without insurance than ever before, either by choice or because their policies were canceled and they ran out of time to find alternative coverage.

But these are worries for the days and weeks after the storm.

The Sentinel newsroom will be working throughout the storm to offer the most up-to-date coverage on and in the e-edition. Right now Floridians have one and only one duty: Pay attention, and do what is needed to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Figure out where you will go if the order is given to evacuate, particularly if you live in a low-lying area or in a mobile home. Gov. Ron DeSantis has already declared some parts of the state a disaster zone, and, shelters should start to open in the next 24 hours. If you have special needs or a pet, make sure you know where the nearest shelter is that will meet your needs and realize that those shelters tend to fill up quickly.

Gather your most important documents, medications, bedding or sleeping bags, a stockpile of food and entertainment — including chargers and battery banks — and be prepared to leave if told to go.

Your first, your most important duty is to remain safe. The rest can wait until Ian’s wrath is spent.

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Krys Fluker, Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson and Viewpoints Editor Jay Reddick. Contact us at [email protected]

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