Southbay Information  




CERT is a nationwide program that teaches volunteers how to prepare for hazards most likely to impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. More than 600,000 people have been trained since CERT became a national program and there are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide; Southbay has one of them.

The Southbay CERT has 17 active members, 6 of whom have completed the CERT Basic Course, which is offered periodically by Sarasota County.  Other professionals in our community have also volunteered to help in an emergency, including doctors, law enforcement, and Ham radio operators. If you are interested in volunteering your skills to help your neighbors by participating in the CERT, please contact the community manager or current CERT Chairman.

If anyone would like to take the CERT Basic Course in order to get certified for official service, Sarasota County has just announced another course. The October 2021 CERT BASIC Course at State College of Florida (Lakewood Ranch) is now available for registration. Interested residents can visit the Sarasota County CERT website at

Southbay is divided into 6 CERT Zones (A-F) and falls entirely within Evacuation Zones A or B as shown in the graphic below. Once the storm has passed, the CERT will assess the situation and determine if a Command Center needs to be established.  If so, the primary location will be the Clubhouse, the secondary is the Irrigation Plant. 

The immediate focus of the CERT will be to identify safety hazards, locate any medical emergencies and respond accordingly.  The command center is where residents should come to provide information, request assistance or offer supplies and equipment that may be needed. 


CERT Supplies


The CERT maintains a small amount of basic medical supplies, lanterns, flashlights and light search and rescue equipment such as crowbars, axes and a chainsaw. Depending on the nature and extent of damage in the community, this may not be enough.  We may need residents to volunteer additional equipment such as medical supplies, chainsaws, and vehicles that could be used to clear debris from roadways (safely!) so first responders can reach us. 

Residents with medical backgrounds or first aid training should contact their zone captains and offer to assist at the command center. 

Southbay CERT and County Evacuation Zones

Sarasota County Evacuation Zones should not be confused with SOUTHBAY CERT Zones. Evacuation Zones (shaded in the graphic) are based on ground elevation, defined by Sarasota County government and used to identify areas that may need to be evacuated to avoid storm surge.  SOUTHBAY CERT zones (outlined in RED in the graphic) are defined by the SOUTHBAY CERT and used solely for administrative coordination within SOUTHBAY.


Recommendations and Responsibilities for Residents

The Southbay Disaster Preparedness & Response Plan (DR/RP) (2021 update coming soon) specific information for Southbay residents that is summarized here. All Southbay residents should review this document.


Whether or not you’re in Southbay, you are responsible for securing your property and loose objects that could endanger your own and neighbors’ property in high winds. If you own a boat, you are responsible for securing that as well. If you plan to be out of town during hurricane season, please secure your property before leaving.


If you own a Boat           

The Southbay DR/RP (2021 update coming soon) provides detailed information on protecting your boat. Some key points during hurricane season:

  • Provide SOUTHBAY Community Manager with an emergency phone number for you and the person responsible for your boat in your absence.
  • Under normal conditions, SOUTHBAY requires two bowlines, two stern lines, and one spring line. If you will be gone for more than a week, leave your boat prepared for a storm: Double all lines, set chafing gear and fenders, remove canvas and bridge enclosures to reduce wind load, stow items such as chairs and cushions that could be blown away.
  • If a storm threatens, double all lines and leave excess that can be adjusted from the dock. Leave enough slack so the boat can rise with the tide; four- or five-foot tidal surges can be expected. Use fender boards to protect your boat from slamming into pilings or docks. Wave action during a storm can chew up your boat quickly, even if you have a built-in rubber fender along your gunwale.

If you have a Pet          

All Sarasota County general population evacuation shelters should now accept pets, although this is limited to domestic dogs and cats. The county is updating its fact sheet on pets, but the preliminary guidance is that when you arrive at the shelter with your pet, you will be asked to provide the following:

  • Written proof of vaccinations during the past 12 months
  • Proper ID collar and up to date rabies tag
  • Pet carriage or cage of appropriate size, labeled with pet and owner’s name and address
  • Leash
  • Ample food supply and water/food bowls
  • Any necessary medications
  • Newspaper and bags for handling waste

You are responsible for your pet but don’t use that as a reason not to evacuate; if you are ordered to evacuate, take your pet with you. All Sarasota County shelters now accept pets. To find a hotel that accepts pets, type “Pet-Friendly Hotels near me” in your browser window; there are several in the area. Make reservations early and check on any limitations as to size or number of pets and make sure they are not in an evacuation zone. (This LINK shows evacuation zones throughout Florida).

After the storm has passed, be careful about allowing your pet outside. Downed power lines, animals, and insects brought in with high water could present real dangers. Don’t allow your pet to consume food or water that may be contaminated.

CERT Help Following a Hurricane 

The Southbay CERT team will make every effort to visit your home following a hurricane if you ask us in advance. Please do that by completing the Southbay CERT Survey 2021 as a printed survey or use our online survey.

Whether or not to Evacuate    


Sarasota County Evacuation Centers are advertised as a “last resort” shelter with few amenities, so people may be more comfortable either sheltering in place or with a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone. There are two factors affecting the evacuation decision: wind and water.

Wind. According to County government, if your home was built after 2002, and you are not in an evacuation zone, you may be more comfortable sheltering in place. A 2005 University of Florida study concluded that homes built under the 2002 Florida Building Code sustained less damage on average than homes built between 1994 and 2001 under the Standard Building Code. Homes built before 1994 fared worse than those built after that year. Southbay has been here since the 1970’s, but if your home was built or significantly remodeled after 2002, it SHOULD have been constructed to meet the 2002 Florida building code. If you plan on remodeling or for tips on how to make your home safer, visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes at and remember the “A B C’s”:

  • Anchor your roof
  • Brace your entry and garage doors
  • Cover your windows

Water. Evacuation zones are generally based on the potential for flooding or storm surge. All of Southbay is in either Evacuation Zone A or Zone B, so if a major hurricane threatens our community at least ½ and possibly all of Southbay will be in a mandatory evacuation zone. The NOAA/NWS/NHC Storm Surge Unit has developed models that show the vulnerability of coastal regions to storm surge flooding. A description of how these models were developed is at this link. What these models predict for how Southbay would be affected by storms of different strengths is shown in the figures below. Our community is outlined in black. Therefore water, not wind, will probably be the determining factor. Of course, if Sarasota County issues a mandatory evacuation for your zone, you should evacuate.

If you decide that your home is not a safe place to ride out a storm either because of its construction or location and you don’t want to go to a county shelter, you have two options.  You can stay with a friend or family member who lives outside the evacuation area or goes to a hotel that is accepting guests. Of course, you should check with these friends/family members to be sure they are not also planning to evacuate and make your hotel reservations early.

It has also been suggested that people move inland to avoid storm surge and inland flooding, but evacuate “tens of miles, not hundreds” if possible. Roads will be heavily congested and you run the risk of being caught on the highway without a safe refuge or running into the storm if it takes a different track. Sarasota County's “Evacuation Centers” page lists Sarasota County evacuation centers and can help with the decision whether or not to evacuate prior to a storm. 

A March 2018 FEMA presentation included results of a behavioral analysis survey about how the public views evacuation orders.  The results suggest there is serious under-concern about the surge, while people with children or recent real-world hurricane experience were more likely to evacuate. 

The following charts identify the levels of a surge in relationship to the Cat forecasted.