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Storm watch
September 7, 2017

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While the latest path projections for Hurricane Irma are better for Southwest Florida, it would be a mistake to be complacent.

The National Hurricane Center warns that Irma remains "an extremely dangerous" hurricane and, even if its shift east continues, Southwest Florida can expect storm-driven wind and rain.

In fact, emergency operations personnel across Lee County, including those here in the Cape, are urging residents to stay on high alert with those in low-lying areas under a mandatory evacuation as of this morning. Those communities include Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Island. Also under the order county officials said would come Friday are those living in mobile and manufactured homes throughout Lee County.

If you need to leave, leaving early makes sense. When winds hit 40 mph - which the National Hurricane Center currently states can happen here if Lee County only feels the impact of tropical force winds - the bridges will close. While you could possibly drive across, that would be highly ill-advised - especially since all emergency responders, including police, ambulances, fire vehicles and tow trucks can not respond during such weather.

Also worth taking to heart are recommendations stressing full preparedness.

That includes storm-proofing homes, stocking up on essentials and filling the tank in case you need to pack up the family and the pets and go.

It also means getting ready for any interruption in power if you intend to stay.

While buying bottled water, canned goods, batteries, and gas for the generator, it also makes sense to secure the food supplies you have.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health advise that we begin freezing containers of water now so if the power goes out that ice can help keep food and medications cold. You also can buy ice or gel packs to keep food cold.

They also suggest freezing refrigerated items like leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that are not immediately needed. This will help keep them at a safe temperature longer should the power go out for any extended period of time.

Picking up or putting away all items outside is also advised. The last thing you want is for that lawn chair or grill to become a projectile when the wind kicks up.

A full roster of storm preparedness and post-storm tips may be found on our website at cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/

page/category.detail/nav/5147/Hurricane-Guide-2017.html .

In addition, we will continue to post Irma-related news advisories as they come in.

The city of Cape Coral also is providing regular updates at capecoral.net/hurricane. Safety information and tips can be found under the "Preparedness and Safety Tips" menu tab.

The EOC Emergency Information Center is available for residents who may have questions or are looking for information. Dial 3-1-1, city officials said.

The threat is real.

Leave if you are so ordered.

Be prepared if you stay.

And be safe, Cape Coral.

-?Breeze editorial

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