Here's How to Plan for a Hurricane in Miami

The aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005.EXPAND
The aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Photo by Lyssa Oberkreser

It's been 11 years since a major hurricane hit Miami, the longest streak in South Florida history. Those who lived through the devastation of Hurricane Andrew haven't forgotten how to prepare for a tropical cyclone. But Florida has added millions of new residents since 1992 — and even since 2005, when Wilma hit.

The National Hurricane Center's latest predictions say Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds, is still a major threat to Florida's Atlantic coast.

Confused about how to prepare? Here are some tips to follow if things go south, both literally and figuratively.

Here's How to Plan for a Hurricane in Miami
National Hurricane Center

1. Buy some damn supplies. Especially water.

This is pretty much the most obvious advice we can give: Make sure you have food and water. Stock up on nonperishables in case the power goes out — canned veggies, beans, tuna, and chicken, plus granola bars. Likewise, it's well within reason that a major storm could knock out your water supply, so be sure to buy a few gallons of water. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends buying one gallon of water per person per day. (Also helpful: Instant and/or bottles of iced coffee and tea. Also: booze if you're into it, thought FEMA doesn't exactly sanction getting drunk during a storm that could kill you.)

There are some smaller tricks too: Buy a bag or two of ice to throw into your freezer. If the power goes out, the ice will keep your food temporarily cold for a few hours as a stopgap.

Be sure to have essential nonfood items such as duct tape, batteries, a portable radio, flashlights, a cell-phone charger, soap, toothpaste, paper towels, toilet paper, tampons, and the like. You might also need bleach or iodine if government officials say you need to disinfect your water. A first-aid kit also isn't a bad purchase.

If you have the cash and it looks like the storm might take a turn for the worse, you could consider investing in a portable power generator or some boards for your windows. Definitely swing by a pharmacy to make sure you have all the medications you need, and run by an ATM for some cash.

You might be tempted to buy candles, but multiple government agencies warn that filling your home with candles during a power outage can be dangerous — flying debris or wind could easily knock a candle over and burn your home down.

And don't forget pet supplies if you need them.

Here's How to Plan for a Hurricane in Miami
Miami-Dade County

2. Figure out if you're in a flood zone or evacuation area.

Despite a well-deserved reputation for general incompetence, Miami-Dade County officials actually know what they're doing when it comes to hurricanes. The county has an easy-to-read flood zone map posted online. While mainland Miami residents who don't live near bodies of water will likely be OK, pretty much all of Miami Beach sits in a flood zone. Be prepared for surges and swells. Here's a handy brochure about what the flood zones mean. Likewise, the county has partnered with Florida International University to develop an online storm-surge simulator.

Likewise, you should check to see (A) if you live in an evacuation zone and, (B) if so, where you'll need to go. (All of the county's evacuation sites are public schools.) If you don't own a car, the county provides wheelchair-accessible buses at multiple locations throughout the area. If you're here as a tourist, the county might evacuate you before the rest of the city.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >