Hurricane Safety in 2024

Local Safety Improvements since Ian.

Several hurricane shelters in Southwest Florida have received significant upgrades to increase their ability to handle Category 5 storms, the most dangerous and potentially catastrophic hurricanes.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity awarded more than $16 million in grants to improve Lee and Collier counties’ buildings’ ability to withstand major hurricanes. The grants include funds to increase the “hardening” of two of the region’s largest shelters to tolerate winds of 170 mph and safely shelter some 7,000 people.

With winds over 157 mph, hurricanes are considered Category 5 storms, the most dangerous, by the widely cited Saffir-Simpson scale that rates storms by intensity.

 Improvements also include funds to make a trash-to-energy plant more capable of operating during a hurricane, improve disaster centers and disaster recovery efforts, and provide generators for sites with critical importance during a disaster.

The largest Southwest Florida grant, $4.5 million, has been used to improve Hertz Arena. “We have already made significant improvements after Irma, including $3.2 million worth of roof work on the main arena roof, and there is roofing that still needs to be upgraded,” said Assistant Lee County Manager Glen Salyer. It is our biggest shelter, with the potential to house 5,000 people. We want to make it as secure as we possibly can. The upgrades at the privately owned Hertz Arena are designed to withstand winds of 170 mph.”

For a look at preparations you can make, resources you can bookmark, and alerts you can sign up for, visit our Hurricane Preparedness page.