We’re in the middle of hurricane season — make sure you’re prepared

Kristen Livengood, Public Information Officer for Monroe County, joined KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM Wednesday to talk about what’s going on in the county.

The Keys are in the middle of hurricane season and the alerts system seems to be working quite well.

Livengood said, “If you go to monroecountyem.com, there’s actually a button on there where you can sign up for alerts. There was that issue a few months ago where a text alert went out at 3 a.m. and a lot of people turn their alerts off, but it is really important to keep those alerts on, especially throughout hurricane season so that you know if there’s any major happenings going on, but also you get the alerts when there’s severe thunderstorms. A lot of times with the severe thunderstorms it is a good reminder to just go outside and secure some of your furniture outside and patio furniture or take down any umbrellas so they don’t you know take off in the middle of the night.”

Wind gusts Tuesday got up to 58 miles per hour.

Livengood said, “There was definitely some severe weather. Hopefully everybody out on boats was safe and got shelter. Those alerts are definitely important for things like that, especially if you’re planning to go out on the boat or do anything.”

Manatee Bay also reported water temperatures at 101 degrees recently – a hot tub is registered at about the same temperature.

Livengood said, “It’s just crazy to me. I know a couple of weeks ago my brother does a lot of fishing and he actually called me I think it was last week and he’s like, oh my gosh, there’s dead fish, dead angel fish and reef fish that were floating up and it’s just devastating to hear that.”

Reentry stickers are available for anyone who needs them during hurricane season.

Livengood said, “It reminds you to trim your coconut trees and try to get some of that stuff taken care of before we’re in any bad situations. The reentry stickers are available at the tax collector’s offices. If you are a resident you just bring proof that you live here, a driver’s license, utility bill, and your vehicle registration.”

Some folks have found their reentry stickers are fading.

Livengood said, “I personally keep my sticker in my glove box, and hopefully never have to pull it out, but if I do have to pull it out, I pull it out if I need it, if I need to stick it on my window because of an evacuation, that’ll keep it from fading because with our heat and hot sun down here, they’ll definitely lose their color. So if you can go grab them from the tax collector’s office and they’ll take care of you with your proof of residency and your vehicle registration and the tax collectors offices are located throughout the Keys and the stickers are done by zone. You don’t need one though either. If you were to evacuate and you didn’t pick up your sticker, all you have to do is show your driver’s license to come back in. Just show that you’re a resident here. If you live out of out of town and you’re coming back in, you just have to show the proof that you have a house here in the Florida Keys and they’ll let you back in as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Winn Dixie Plaza now has an alternate entrance.

Livengood said, “That was the most exciting news that I got yesterday, because I live in the area and I know a lot of people use Winn Dixie and luckily now it is open. Full access to Winn Dixie again on Big Pine Key, all the dips in the road have been fixed. So that’s very nice. We knew it would cause a few little backups here or there, but for the most part without all the extra people here for mini season right now, it wasn’t too terribly bad with the backups in the morning. We’re just glad that that’s over. We do have a couple little maintenance things coming up. The permanent striping will be done in about 10 days and they’re removing equipment today but nothing’s going to be impacting traffic. So, yay!”

Boat ramps are definitely crowded at the moment.

Livengood said, “We’ve just been trying to tell people that if they’re going to use county boat ramps, their best thing to do is Splash and Dash. It’s where you would drop your boat and then have someone bring your boat and trailer back to your house. Because the boat parking is so limited at many of the spots. There will be signs out in front of the streets if the boat trailer parking is full, just so that people are aware and don’t have to figure out how to turn around. So at the end of the street, that sign will go up. We’ll also post it on the parks and beaches social media page.”