Editorial: When an evacuation ...

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Daily News


Published October 4, 2019

As a powerful Hurricane Dorian made its slow crawl toward Florida, the power went out in some condominium buildings.

But it wasn’t the storm that caused the outage. Some condominium buildings turned off their power, forcing residents to either evacuate or stay behind without electricity.

But there’s a good reason why the lights went out.

Palm Beach County issued a mandatory evacuation order for the island at 1 p.m. Sept. 1 after we had been put on hurricane watch. At one point, the hurricane track was pointing right at us.

Some residents elected to ride out the storm at home despite the threat of high winds and storm surge from a Category 5 storm coming close or making landfall.

Though the hurricane thankfully stayed offshore, staying in an oceanfront condo or home with such a powerful monster at your doorstep seems incomprehensible. It’s not safe, no matter how strong one’s home seems to be.

Police and Fire-Rescue crews, which will not respond during a major weather event, cannot force residents to leave. Yet, in each and every major storm, people stay behind.

The condominium associations, which also can’t force people to go, shut down their power as a deterrent for those thinking of staying and because they need to prepare their buildings.

A state law allows condominium associations to shut off power, elevators, water and sewer. Unfortunately, some went too far by turning off their emergency generators. That’s a no-no. Generators need to stay on so essential safety systems such as lighted stairways and hallways function, according to Fire-Rescue.

Government officials urge people each and every hurricane season to have a plan. Staying behind because you have nowhere to go is not an excuse. Contact family ahead of time. Band together with neighbors. Find a shelter. In short, get a plan.

The destruction Dorian caused in the Bahamas is a jarring example of the strength of a Category 5 storm. But storms at lower strengths still can pack a punch.

So the next time there’s an evacuation warning for the island, everyone should skip the bravado and head to a safe place.