Boca Grande has implemented a disaster plan to evacuate the community in case of emergency.
This plan has been used successfully in other communities, however, there is always one part that has been a concern: How best to 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 that is a slow process, those waiting in line can become impatient.
o facilitate re-entry to the island after a major storm, GIBA administered a program using hurricane hangtags. Each tag is color coded according to a designated official, commercial and residential use and district zone.
To facilitate re-entry to the island after a major storm, GIBA administered a program using hurricane hangtags. Each tag is color coded according to a designated official, commercial and residential use and district zone. The zones are:
Zone 1, Bridge to 18th Street
Zone 2, Isles
How to get Hurricane Hangtags
Where: Boca Grande Fire Department Headquarters, 360 East Railroad Ave.
When: Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.
You should know: The Fire Department will be closed the day before a pending hurricane.
To apply: If you are not on the island, call to request an application. Send your completed application with a self addressed, stamped envelope to the Boca Grande Fire Department, P.O. Box 532, Boca Grande, FL 33921. Include a copy of your drivers license, proof of residency or ownership, i.e. copy of tax bill, deed, rental agreement, utility bill, etc. The tags will be mailed to you.
Tag Renewal: Bring your old tag and drivers license into the fire station to have a renewal sticker applied. Or send your tags with a self addressed stamped envelope to the Boca Grande Fire Department and the tags will be renewed and returned to you.
Zone 3, 18th Street to First Street
Zone 4, First Street to south end
As a barrier island with an average elevation of 4 to 6 feet above sea level, it may be necessary to evacuate the island to protect public safety on occasion. After an evacuation, it is GIBA's job to return residents to homes, and business owners to their property as soon as possible. Hurricane hangtags maximize security measures while providing authorized persons fast access to their property.
The following IDs will be recognized:
Hangtags: Hangtags used by officials, residents, business and property owners to gain access to the island. To make re-entry easier GIBA issued a vehicle rear-view mirror hangtag to officials, property owners, residents and business owners of Boca Grande.
Each hangtag is color coded for official, residential or commercial use. The hangtags also contain valuable information for hurricane preparedness and island re-entry.
The Hurricane Hangtag Program includes a four-zone system 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 on Boca Grande.
A computerized database will track all who were issued hangtags. The tags are issued to officials, property owners, residents and business owners only and it shall be up to these individuals as to how they will distribute their tags. It is recommended that people keep hangtags in their vehicle glove box for easy access.
Drivers license: Drivers licenses with a Boca Grande address can be used to gain island access, however, a Hurricane Hangtag will expedite your return. A valid drivers license with proper Boca Grande address and/or a Hurricane Hangtag will allow access back onto the island following an evacuation. A drivers license alone may cause a delay. Obtain a Hurricane Hangtag to expedite all returns following an emergency.
Staying on the island: If you elect to remain on the island after an evacuation advisory has been issued, which is not recommended, it is requested that you contact the Boca Grande Fire Department at (941) 964-2908 and leave the following information:
Name and address where you are staying.
Number of members in your party.
Contact number for next of kin not living in the area.
This will aid the Fire Department to expedite search and rescue proceedings as well as body recovery efforts. Those electing not to contact the Boca Grande Fire Department shall be assisted on a first come, first served basis.
The Boca Grande Fire Department is not a shelter or a safe haven. Residents are asked to make arrangements as needed for evacuations.
Source: Boca Grande Fire Department.