Be ready before disaster strikes

Blue disaster bucket icon

Plan now. When disaster strikes, it is too late to prepare. This section will help you plan to keep you and your family safe during disasters. Be prepared by having a plan and disaster bucket for your family.

Satellite image of Hurricane Ian


Leon County encourages citizens to put disaster supplies in a waterproof and durable five-gallon bucket. Keep these essential items in a bucket near an exit door in your home or in your vehicle.

  • Batteries
  • Hand crank emergency radio
  • Blanket
  • Manual can opener
  • Cash
  • Change of clothing
  • Duct tape
  • Dust masks for each person
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Games and toys
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Keys (home and car)
  • Large plastic trash bags
  • Local map
  • Medications
  • Non-perishable food
  • Permanent marker
  • Pet supplies
  • Photos of family members and pets
  • Pocket knife
  • Portable phone charger
  • Ponchos
  • Rope/paracord
  • Soap
  • Special family needs (diapers, feminine hygiene items, etc.)
  • Tarp
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Water
  • Waterproof bag with family documents, including driver’s license, insurance information, out-of-area contact, medical information
  • Whistle

Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning can help keep you safe. Whether a watch or warning, listen closely to instructions from local officials using a TV, radio, cell phone or other communication device.

Tropical Storms:

  • Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
  • Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified area within 36 hours.


  • Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
  • Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.


  • Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.
  • Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Proceed to a safe room immediately.


  • Watch: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
  • Warning: A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

Flash Flood Warning:

A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area, move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden, violent flood that can take minutes or hours to develop.


5 Questions to Ask About Your Policy

  1. What is my standard deductible?
  2. What is my hurricane deductible?
  3. Do I need flood insurance?
  4. Do I have enough coverage to replace my home and belongings?
  5. Do I have loss-of-use coverage for temporary housing expenses?

Not all insurance policies are created equal. Check your policy or talk to your agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage and to determine if any home improvements would qualify for a discount on premiums. Learn more about insurance policies from the Insurance Information Institute at iii.org.

Flood Insurance

Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from rising flood waters. If you own a home in a flood zone, your mortgage company will require you to carry a flood policy. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, consider the additional coverage. Anywhere it rains, it can flood. To learn more about flood protection, visit LeonCountyFL.gov/FloodProtection.

Don’t wait until it is too late to buy a flood insurance policy. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period before your policy goes into effect.


Questions to ask:

  • Do I know my rental property’s risk of flooding or storm surge? Do I know my evacuation zone?
  • Do I need flood insurance and renter’s insurance to cover damage to my personal property?
  • Will my landlord protect the windows in a storm? If not, where would I go during a hurricane?

Insurance Helpline

The Florida Department of Financial Services’ toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline is available year-round to assist Florida’s insurance consumers. Insurance Specialists are available to answer questions or concerns regarding insurance coverage and advocate on a consumer’s behalf to resolve a dispute with an insurance company. Consumers may contact an Insurance Specialist at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) toll-free, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you live in Leon County but have a phone number starting with a non-Florida area code, call 850-413-3089.

For additional information on preparing for a natural disaster, visit the Department of Financial Services’ website at MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers and click Disaster Preparedness.


Sandbags can redirect stormwater and debris flows away from homes and other structures if they are correctly filled, placed and maintained. However, sandbags will not seal out water, and residents should not rely on sandbags to save their home from major flooding, especially fast-moving hurricane storm surge flooding. Consider the severity of flood conditions before deciding whether sandbags would provide effective protection.


  • Fill sandbags one-half full.
  • Fold the top of sandbag down and rest the bag on its folded top.


  • Take care in stacking sandbags.
  • Limit placement to three layers unless you have a building or wall to use as a backing.
  • Tamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer before starting the next layer.
  • Clear a path between buildings for debris flow.
  • Lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping through openings, like sliding glass doors.


  • Sandbags will not seal out water.
  • Sandbags deteriorate when exposed to continued wetting and drying.
  • Sandbags are for small water flow protection – up to two feet. Protection from more significant water flow requires a more permanent flood prevention system.
  • Wet sandbags are very heavy. Use caution when lifting to avoid injury.

Leon County Sandbag Locations

  • Northeast Branch Library, 5513 Thomasville Road
  • Apalachee Regional Park, 7550 Apalachee Parkway
  • Fred George Park, 3043 Capital Circle NW
  • At the intersection of Oak Ridge Road and Ranchero Road
  • Leon County Fort Braden Community Park, 15000 Blountstown Highway

Sandbags are made available by Leon County and the City of Tallahassee for heavy rain. Leon County sandbags are limited to 15 bags per household. Residents are encouraged to bring their own shovels as a limited number of tools for filling bags are available. County locations will be staffed. Sites will remain open until officials determine that sandbags are no longer needed. Updates about sandbag availability will be provided during an emergency at LeonCountyFL.gov/ei.

Prepare for hurricane season with a Neighborhood Readiness Training from Leon County Emergency Management, designed to help you, your family and your neighborhood prepare for disasters.

Learn more