Hurricane season begins June 1, and now is the time to prepare

May 17, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

STAFF REPORT – With June 1 on the horizon, signifying the beginning of hurricane season, one errand you should prioritize is making sure your hurricane hang tags, issued by the Boca Grande Fire Department, are handy and ready to use.

The community of Boca Grande has implemented one of the most progressive and user-friendly disaster plans to be used as direction for evacuation of our community. This plan has been utilized successfully in other communities; however, there has always been one part of the plan which has been a concern. That part is how we handle the re-entry process at the Gasparilla Island Bridge Association after an evacuation. 

Part of this concern is the necessity of checking identification of all who return to the Island, and because this is a very slow process, those waiting in line become very impatient.

In order to facilitate the re-entry to the Island after a major storm event, we have administered a program using hurricane hang tags. Each tag is color coded according to a designated official, commercial and residential use, and by district zone. 

BGFD officials said that after an evacuation, it is their goal to return residents to their homes, and business owners to their property, as soon as possible. Hurricane hang tags maximize security measures while providing authorized persons access to their property.  

The hurricane hang tag program includes a four-zone system. Your zone will be printed on your hang tag to better track where one should be, and to allow for phased re-entry, if warranted. Limited access at the time of return could be delayed due to any ongoing response and/or recovery efforts in Boca Grande.

A computerized database is used to track the hang tags, and to whom they were issued. Business owners will determine how they will distribute their tags. It is recommended that people keep these in their vehicle glove box for easy access.

A valid driver’s license with a Boca Grande address does not verify a persons’ address, only their identity. For the most expedient return, Boca Grande residents, property owners and those with commercial interests are advised to obtain a hurricane hang tag. 

If you are not on the island, cannot find your previously-issued hang tag or need more, you can download an application at bocagrandefire.com or send an email to nancybocafire@comcast.net. Return your completed application with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Boca Grande Fire Department, POB 532, Boca Grande, Florida, 33921. Include a copy of your driver’s license, proof of residency or ownership (i.e. copy of tax bill, deed, rental agreement, utility bill, business license, etc.). The tags will be mailed to you.