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Hurricane Preparedness: What the Expert Wants You To Know

Stay put and ride out a storm? Leave your home and evacuate? The Florida Standard spoke with Chad Poppell, an expert on hurricane preparedness, to get the answers.

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TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Living in Florida means lots of sunshine and mosty-great weather, but hurricane season is no joke and officials are asking residents to have at least seven days of supplies on hand.

The Florida Standard spoke to Chad Poppell, Managing Director, Health and Government Solutions at KPMG about what Floridians need to prepare for and what to expect in the event of a major hurricane.

Poppell’s former roles as Secretary of the Department of Management Services and Secretary of the Department of Children and Families gives him unique insight in responding to storms from both the state and private sectors.

KPMG works in local communities to help predict disaster zones and plan rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of major storms. Working closely with Florida’s Department of Emergency Management (FDEM), Poppell assisted the state in quickly responding to areas damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 and Hurricane Ian last year.


In addition to food, water, medicine, batteries and other necessities for riding out a storm, Poppell says residents need to work out an emergency plan before the threat of a storm arrives.

“Go a level deeper,” Poppell says. “How much wind can my house take? Am I in a flood flood zone?”

Poppell says paying attention to your local neighborhood could help you make better decisions for you and your family. If your neighborhood has lots of trees, or you know that it might take crews a while to restore power in your remote community, you might need to develop an evacuation plan or buy a generator.

Learning about the expected flooding that may affect your area is also important. Poppell says Florida’s Know Your Zone tool can give homeowners insight into the risk of their homes being flooded to decide if they need to plan an evacuation.


Carefully assessing your own situation by learning about the condition of your home and the age of your roof can help you better decide if you should stay or go. Waiting until the last minute to make those plans could affect your ability to make sound decisions, according to Poppell.

“I think there’s better information out there now and for me personally, I like to think through the tail of this,” Poppell says. “What if my house is severely damaged?”

“What’s my insurance situation going to be? Am I gonna stay in this part of the state or do I have to go somewhere else?” Poppell added.

While those questions seem far from reality now, Poppell says victims of Hurricane Ian are still grappling with the after effects of the storm.

“My good friend who lived on Sanibel Island doesn’t live there anymore,” said Poppell. “He lives in Jacksonville now and it was a huge impact on his family to move and change schools because his house was damaged.”


But how do you know if you should stay put and ride out a storm, or if you should leave your home and evacuate?

Poppell says families can use the state’s online tool to help create a family disaster plan. The guide helps residents tailor plans and supply lists specific to their daily living needs and responsibilities, including tips on how to stay in touch with family members if separated.

Poppell says pre-storm technology becomes more sophisticated every year, but the post-storm impact can be devastating to those who are caught off guard. He encourages all Florida residents and visitors to develop a personal network and communicate about any needs you may have during or after a storm.

In addition, Florida’s Department of Emergency Management website provides extensive resources to help you prepare in advance of a storm.