JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's hurricane season, summer officially starts tomorrow and it's not a question of if but when the next hurricane will threaten the First Coast. According to the Northeast Florida Regional Evacuation Study released Friday, when it comes to shelters Duval and several other coastal communities are not ready.
There are approximately 55,000 thousand spaces needed in emergency shelters in Duval County and there are currently about 34,000 spaces available.
Jacksonville resident Timothy Sanders says his plan should a major hurricane approach is to leave town. But what about those who can't afford to do the same?
Laura D'Aliseria, Emergency Preparedness Planner Supervisor for Jacksonville says since 2007 the city has added 15,000 new shelter spaces. But there's still a huge gap to be filled. A big issue is locating sites that meet the state's stringent shelter code. Public shelters must be built to withstand 130 to 150 mile per hour winds.
"We just can't put people in any existing city building or school," said D'Aliseria. "They have to meet certain structural criteria."
D'Aliseria says there are 27 shelter sites for all of Duval County and warns of the importance for everyone to create a plan and prepare for the possibilities.
"Anything can happen today or tomorrow and then what," asked Sanders.
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