TAVARES – The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division, continues disaster-response operations from the Feb. 2 tornadoes.
Five weeks after the tragic events, emergency workers are making significant progress with assisting residents and the affected communities in recovery. To mitigate the impact of any future severe weather, the Emergency Management Division is encouraging all residents to purchase a NOAA weather radio. With daylight-saving time scheduled for 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, it serves as a good reminder for families to not only change the batteries in their smoke detectors but also weather radios.
“Thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, bomb scares, chemical spills and forest fires — these are just a few of the potential hazards we face here in Lake County,” said Jerry Smith, Director of the Lake County Emergency Management Division. “Having a battery operated, tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio in your home is like having your own personal tornado siren – only it will alert you of all these impending dangers. In every home a weather radio should be as common as a smoke detector.”
A weather radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other non-weather related hazard information 24 hours a day. During an emergency, the weather service forecasters interrupt routine broadcasts and send a special tone activating local weather radios. Weather radios equipped with a special alarm tone feature sound an alert to give you immediate information about a life-threatening situation.
The following new information is an update from the Lake County Emergency Management Division:
• Lake County deactivated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Friday, March 2, at 6 p.m. reducing operations from a Level II, partial activation, to a Level III, monitoring. The EOC remains in working order in case a need arises for sudden activation. The Emergency Management Division conducts daily operations from its office located in the Lake County Administration Building. The Lake County Citizens Information Line (352-343-9732) remains activated 24 hours a day for residents needing disaster-related information.
• The Lake County Building Services Division continues to issue tornado-related damage permits free of charge until Wednesday, March 21. All permits are issued at the Division office, located on the fifth floor of the Lake County Building Administration, 315 W. Main St., Tavares. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. As of Wednesday, the Division has issued 137 tornado-related permits.
• The deadline for residents to place storm-related debris at the roadside has passed; however, crews continue to comb areas to pick-up remaining debris piles. As of Wednesday, a total of 133,700 cubic yards of debris materials have been collected in unincorporated Lake County. Residents that need to dispose of storm-related debris can do so by following normal residential collection guidelines or by visiting a nearby Lake County drop-off facility. For more information regarding collection guidelines or drop-off locations, call the Lake County Citizens Information Line at (352) 343-9732 or click here.
• The two remaining FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers will close on Saturday, March 10, at 6 p.m. The two sites are located at 38521 Lakeview Drive in Lady Lake and at 1706 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand. Residents are encouraged to first contact their home insurance company before seeking FEMA assistance. To apply for FEMA assistance, call 1-800-621-FEMA or log on to www.fema.gov.
• The Lake County Volunteer Center base camp, under the title “Operation: Groundhog Heroes,” is closing Friday. As of Wednesday, the center has registered 673 volunteers. VolunteerLAKE will begin the next phase of volunteer coordination to assist with long-term recovery efforts. For more information, call (352) 742-6590.
• As of Wednesday, 33 FEMA trailers have been delivered and installed in Lake County (16 in Lake Mack, three in unincorporated Lake County and 14 in the Town of Lady Lake).
• To make a monetary donation for long-term recovery efforts, mail checks payable to Lake County BCC (check note: LASER) to P.O. Box 1985, Lady Lake, FL 32158. For more information about making donations, call Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery at (352) 742-6550, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.