From Orange County Commissioner Rod Love
On a late Sunday night on September 10th, 2017, Orange County was hit by the powerful Hurricane Irma. Although the previously Category 5 hurricane had decreased to a Category 2 by the time it had arrived in Orange County, the County had discovered that “…based on preliminary assessments, the damage from this storm appear[ed] to be far greater than what Orange County [had] experienced from [Hurricane] Charley in 2004.” In the aftermath of the storm, several damage assessment teams from different departments of Orange County Government assessed infrastructure and property damage. As assessments were made with a focus on public safety, the teams moved forward with the restoration process. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30, 2018; I would encourage residents to take steps to be prepared for hurricane season. Thus, the purpose of this week’s article is to inform residents on how they can prepare in the event that a hurricane makes landfall in Orange County.
In the outcome of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, legislation creating the 2018 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday was passed and subsequently signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The sales tax holiday begins Friday, June 1st to Thursday, June 7th. During this holiday period, qualifying items related to disaster preparedness will be exempt from sales tax. Those taking part in the sales tax holiday should keep in mind that this does not exempt rentals or repairs of qualifying items or sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport. For a list of qualifying items and more information, residents can access the Florida Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Information Publication on the 2018 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday here: https://revenuelaw.floridarevenue.com/LawLibraryDocuments/2018/04/TIP-121704_TIP%2018A01-05%20FINAL%20RLL.pdf. In addition, the Department has digital downloads and social media posts available for Orange County residents and businesses that would like to share information about the sales tax holiday via the following link: floridarevenue.com/disasterprep.
Another event that residents should mark on their calendars in the upcoming weeks is the 2018 Orange County Hurricane Expo taking place on Saturday, June 9th, 2018, from 9:00 am-1:00 pm at the Cypress Creek High School gymnasium located at 1101 Bear Crossing Drive, Orlando, FL 32824. This free, half-day event will offer hurricane preparedness information as well as items such as weather radios and first aid kits (while supplies last). Those in attendance will be given the chance to speak with emergency personnel and recovery experts from the Orange County Office of Emergency Management. Representatives will be there to answer questions and provide information on how to respond to flooding, high-wind damage, and property loss. Participants will also learn how to track storms, pack a disaster kit and prepare an emergency plan for themselves and their pets. Prospective attendees can watch a short announcement for the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajXOexNEruA&feature=youtu.be. In addition, for questions or additional information, residents can call (407) 836-9140, email at firstname.lastname@example.org go to www.ocfl.net/storm.
Orange County’s webpage (www.ocfl.net/storm) for emergency preparedness offers information on Hurricane preparedness; emergency communications; disaster preparedness; storm assistance; storm repair and permit information; emergency medical services and special needs; emergency alerts and mobile apps; and news and information (Orange County Newsroom). In terms of disaster preparedness, Orange County provides resources that families, individuals, and businesses can use to develop their own plans to prepare in the event of a hurricane. It is also highly recommended that disaster plans include supplies and a course of action for pets. Orange County’s OCFL Alert, OCFL 311 and OCFL News apps are available for free for download on Apple and Android devices. For more information on what each app has to offer, please go to http://www.orangecountyfl.net/Home/NewslettersAlerts.aspx#.WwyiK0gvzD4.
With hurricane season upon us, I highly recommend that you take action now in preparing yourself, your family, and your business so that you are ready in the event that Orange County endures any hurricanes this year.