Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.  In 2004, central Florida was hit with three major hurricanes within a few weeks of each other. The Museum survived with only minimal roof damage, but if the eye of the hurricanes had been 20 miles to the west, we could have had a much more extensive disaster to contend with. The Orlando Museum was without power for 3 weeks.

The goal of any good hurricane plan is to take preventative steps to reduce the damage to the building and the collections. A good plan should also allow the staff members plenty of time to secure the building so they may return home to protect their families and property.  Fulltime Curatorial Department staff and someone from the Security/Operations Department will be asked to stay in the Museum during the storm (their families may stay too).  Any other staff members that wish to stay at the Museum should make arrangements with Gregory (Director of Operations, Security & Technology) at the start of Hurricane Season. Staff members who live in a mobile home or who live in low-lying areas are encouraged to stay at the Museum as well as any staff member that will be alone during the storm.


Before Hurricane Season Starts:

1.  Gregory will make sure all the disaster supplies are gathered. Batteries and bleach should be replaced and any missing supplies should be purchased. Bleach has a 6 month shelf life for water purification purposes and must be replaced at the start and end of each hurricane season.

2.  All staff members should be trained in their responsibilities for preparing for a hurricane.  

3.  Make sure you have all necessary emergency supplies at home and make sure your home is ready for hurricane season. Have a family hurricane plan and decide ahead of time where you will ride out the storm.

4.  Every day during hurricane season, Gregory checks the National Hurricane Center website ( daily and will send out emails when a hurricane is approaching that may affect us.

5.  Gregory will make sure everyone has a fresh battery in their flashlight and they know where it is located.

6.  Each year Gregory updates and reevaluates the entire disaster plan to make sure it is current

7.  After every major disaster Gregory looks for lessons that can be applied to our disaster plan to make it better.



When a Hurricane is Forming:

(48 to 72 hours before the storm)

1.        Do not assume that everyone knows that a hurricane is forming.  Inform your coworkers if you hear of one that might affect Florida.

2.       Make sure you have all your supplies and preparations for your home, family and pets are taken care of. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, plenty of medication, food and water.

3.       Gregory should contact Payne Air Conditioning and request portable air conditioning units with generators be placed on standby if the hurricane is a Category III or higher and likely to hit Lakeland.


When a Hurricane Watch is Declared:

(36 hours before the storm)

A Hurricane Watch means that a hurricane may strike within 36 hours.  When a Hurricane is expected to strike Central Florida within 36 hours, an announcement will be made to all departments to begin securing the building. All departments will have approximately 1 hour to prepare their offices for the storm, after which staff should report to the Gregory or Loren (Collections Manager) for assignments. Claire (Executive Director) will make the determination as to when the building will be closed to visitors.


1.        Gregory and Matt (Preparator & Museum Designer) will make sure that the sculptures in the sculpture garden are secure (brought in or tied down). 

2.       Joe (Operations Assistant) will make sure that all two-way radios, cordless power tools and flashlight batteries are fully charged.

3.       Each staff member will power down their computer in the following manner:

                    1. Shutdown your computer and monitor but do not unplug it

                    2. Unplug the Ethernet cable (usually the yellow cable)

          3. Hold the button on your battery backup down for 5 seconds (it should beep when you let go of the button)

                    4. Unplug the battery backup from the wall

                    5. Your battery backup should not be beeping or making any noise

          NOTE: Joe should leave his computer on to control the HVAC system

4.       Security will make sure all visitors are out of the building and the exterior doors are locked when the decision to close the Museum is made.  They will also make sure all interior doors are closed and locked after the staff has left.


After each department is secured, report to Gregory or Loren


When a Hurricane Warning is Declared:

(24 hours before the storm)

A Hurricane Warning means that a hurricane will strike within 24 hours. By this time most of the building should be secured and most of the staff should be sent home to protect their families and homes.  Final preparations should be carried out by the remaining staff.  Staff that will be staying in the Museum MUST bring his/her hurricane kit with them as well as medications, food and water for their entire family.


1.  All doors in the building should be double-checked to make sure they are locked.

2.  With the time remaining before the storm the Curatorial Staff will do anything else that seems appropriate to protect the collections.

3.  Staff and their families should gather in the prep-area. Gregory will explain the rules of conduct and what is expected of everyone staying. Rules include:

·  Stay out of areas with windows unless patrolling

·  Matt, Loren, Gregory and Joe will make regular patrols looking for damage

·  Stay with your children if you have children. You are responsible for them.

·  Do not go in front of the battery-powered motion sensors or you will set them off.

·  Do not drink alcohol or use drugs. We need everyone sober and alert.

·  Stay out of the elevator.

·  Try to stay as comfortable as possible, but remember we still must protect the art.

·  No food or drinks in Collections or Art Storage

·  Children must stay out of the tool cage area as it is dangerous

·  No horse play or allowing the kids to throw things like balls

·  Keep doors to Collections and Art Storage closed and locked at all times

·  Only staff members are allowed to go past the gate for insurance reasons


During the Storm:

Staff staying in the Museum will be riding out the storm together in the prep-area except while sleeping. Ellen and Joe both have small children. Staying in the prep area can be a scary place even in the best of circumstances to a child, so we should all try to remain calm. No matter where you are riding out the storm, try to relax and take comfort in the fact that you took sound preventative measures to limit the damage. Play games, watch movies and enjoy your family time together instead of constantly leaving the news & weather forecast running in the background. Concentrating too much on the weather forecast and news, for which you have no control over, will only bring down the group’s morale.


Be aware that if the eye of the hurricane crosses over Lakeland, the storm will appear to have ended.  Do not leave the safe areas (prep-area, restrooms and offices with no windows). At any moment, the wall of the eye could pass over and the storm will start up again, this time with the winds blowing in the opposite direction. Stay in the office for a least two hours after the storm has ended and listen carefully to the weather forecast in case the storm has stalled out with the eye overhead.


After the Storm:

There are many dangers associated with hurricanes and other natural disasters.  Safety should be a primary concern to everyone, both staff at the Museum and staff at home.  In most cases the telephone lines will be inoperable. Cellular phones will be overloaded.  Even if you were able to phone the police, fire department or EMS, chances are good that they will not be able to respond due to more severe emergencies, blocked roads, etc. Your safety and protection are up to you.


1.  Watch out for downed electrical power lines.

2.  Natural gas can be a problem if the gas lines were compromised and are leaking (see Gas Leak in the Museum’s disaster plan).

3.  Insects, rodents and snakes will be prevalent due to their homes being flooded.  Do not put out poison. Traps are much safer and effective. 

4.  Looters and vandals may also be a problem.  If the disaster is widespread, the National Guard will be called in, but it may take 24 to 72 hours before it is safe to venture out.


When you are able to return to the Museum:

After a hurricane, it may be difficult to get to the Museum. Roads may be blocked by downed trees, power lines, water main breaks, etc. You may have to find alternate routes to the Museum. If the National Guard is called in, they may set up road blocks and not permit travel into certain areas. All staff are issued Polk County Schools ID badges. Keep your badge with you as it will prove that you an employee.  If you are able to get to the Museum, you might not be able to get inside until a structural engineer says the building is safe. In all likelihood, no one will be able to get into the building for 24 hours after the storm has passed if they are not already inside. Upon returning to the Museum, be prepared to be here for several days. Bring food, water, extra clothing, medications, etc. Most importantly, make sure your family is taken care of before you return to the Museum.