Plan and Prepare for a Hurricane


Natural disasters are serious business. Hurricanes Michael (10/2019) and Hermine (9/2016) and the wildfire on St. George Island (4/2017) remind us of the need to be prepared for emergencies.  Life on this fragile island requires even greater diligence than other locations.  Plan, prepare and get organized TODAY.  

Following, are information, instructions, and helpful lists-- to prepare for an emergency in Sunset Beach. The information pertains to hurricanes. Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30 each year and St. George Island is in Evacuation Zone A, the first to be evacuated when a storm is imminent.  All owners must take responsibility for their property.

Hurricane Prep information is in three categories

  • Planning and Preparation
  • Prepare for Evacuation
  • Evacuation Issued

 Part 1: Planning and Preparation

Spend time now to prepare for a hurricane or other emergency since you will not have time to complete the items on this list if an evacuation becomes necessary.

  1. Sign up for alerts
  • Franklin County Emergency Management (FCEM):  The Alert Franklin System sends emergency notifications in case of man-made or natural disasters, including wildfires.  The system also alerts for bridge closures, evacuation notices, as well as other non-weather-related emergencies.  (
  1.  Obtain a re-entry tag from Franklin County Emergency Management (FCEM)
  1. Prepare your property for your absence
  • Plan for someone to prepare your property and check on it after an evacuation if you will not be able to do it yourself.  If you would like to contact owners who live near you, log onto the website; on the Owners page, click on Owner Directory, and then search by road name in the Search window.
  • Provide an extra set of house and car keys to your contact person and plan where to park vehicles on higher ground. 
  • Keep propane tanks at least half full so they will not float away during storm surge.
  • Know how to turn off your water heaters, propane tanks and the water to your whole house at the main valve by the meter.
  • Periodically test hurricane shutters and back-up generators (make sure they are fueled). 
  1. Prepare yourself and your family, including pets, for an emergency evacuation

NOTE: There are no emergency shelters anywhere in Franklin County.

  • Make an evacuation plan for your family (including how you will communicate) and your pets (including pet-friendly accommodations and vaccination records). 
  • FEMA also recommends that you have a Communication Plan in place so your family can keep in touch during and after an emergency. (
  • Put together an emergency kit in a waterproof container, including flashlights, batteries, first aid items and medications, water, food, blankets, insect spray, and sunscreen, etc. Click here for a more complete checklist from FEMA. 
  • Place important documents and valuables in a waterproof, portable container or make sure they are backed up in another location and/or electronically.
  • Prepare your cell phone by keeping a car charger handy and making sure you have useful apps downloaded.

Part 2: Storm Watch--Prepare for Evacuation

Complete the items on this list if a storm watch is issued OR if you leave your home for an extended time during hurricane season.

  1. Secure your property
  • Bring in or tie down ALL exterior items--furniture, pots, garbage cans, bikes, kayaks, grills, etc.
  • Secure hurricane shutters or other exterior window coverings.
  • Secure all doors, gates, screen doors, etc.
  • Move items at ground level (storage room and entry) to a higher location to protect from flooding.
  • Open storm surge vents in an entry or lower level (newer homes have interior floats that open automatically as water rises).
  • Move extra vehicles including golf carts to higher ground.
  • Fill the car that you will use during evacuation with gas.
  • Prepare your refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage, using or removing the most perishable foods, turning off the icemaker, and turning both to their coldest settings (Click here for some helpful tips).
  1. Prepare yourself to leave quickly
  • Pack a bag with clothes, shoes, toiletries, and medications.
  • Pack a bag with pet supplies including vaccination records.
  • Check your disaster kit and place it in your car.
  • Put your container of documents in your car.

 Part 3: Storm Warning--Evacuation Issued

Evacuate if a mandatory evacuation is issued!  If you have prepared properly, there is little you can do to protect your property during a storm.  Remaining in an evacuation area only puts your family and others, including first responders, at risk. When winds reach 45 mph, the bridges close and you will be trapped if you wait too long to leave.

  1. Take final actions for your property
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Turn off water at the main water valve.
  • Set AC to 78 degrees.
  • Raise elevators to the top level.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  1. Move to safety
  • Pack up cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices you will need along with their chargers.
  • Gather your pets and their bag of supplies.
  • Place all your packed bags in your car and follow your planned evacuation route and communication plan.

You can call Franklin County Emergency Management (FCEM) at 850-653-8977 or check their website for updates. (  

For the latest weather conditions, check the website of the National Weather Service in Tallahassee ( or the new WeatherStem on the St. George fishing bridge. (

Do not attempt to return to Sunset Beach until you are notified via an alert that the bridge is open, Sunset Beach gate is open, and roads are passable.  You will need your county-issued re-entry pass.  Non-resident sightseers are not permitted on the island immediately after a storm. 

Owners will be notified if the Sunset Beach Natural Disaster Recovery Policy will go into effect.  Please follow the procedures as instructed. If the policy does not go into effect, owners will be responsible for disposing of all debris on their property.  Do NOT place any debris, including vegetation, on the road or right-of-way including in front of your property.  All debris must be taken to the Franklin County Landfill in Eastpoint. For scheduled times, solid waste disposal, and amnesty days visit their website here-- Franklin County Landfill