Residents flock to get hurricane preparedness information
By Eboni Walker
They began to come early.
Some still had vivid memories of Hurricane Hermine, which devastated Tallahassee almost a year ago.
Others just wanted to be there to find out how they could avoid the fate of those who lost electricity for several days or even had severe damage to their homes.
In all more than 500 people showed up at the Pavilion at the Centre of Tallahassee this past Saturday for a hurricane preparedness event billed as Build Your Bucket.
Shirley West was one of the first to show up, having recollection of how her home was damaged by Hermine.
“I wanted to be better prepared than I was last year,” said West. “I have been going to multiple hurricane preparedness events this year, this being my second one.”
This hurricane season, which began June 1, is predicted to be a busy one. State officials have been on a campaign to remind Floridians to be prepared for the worst.
At the same time that Tallahassee residents were getting help understanding how to prepare for a storm, they had a tax break on storm items that they purchased.
During the three-day period, which ended Sunday, state and local sales taxes were not charged on batteries, gas containers, flashlights and portable generators that cost $750 or less.
Saturday’s event was staged by some of the agencies that residents could look to in the time of a storm. They included hurricane preparedness representatives from Leon County and Tallahassee government and the Red Cross.
The first 500 people were given a five-gallon bucket, which they stocked with toothbrushes, flashlights, batteries, informational pamphlets, duck tape, weather radios and other essentials.
“Being forced to evacuate my home in order to survive last year’s hurricane was not fun at all,” said Tim Mitchell. “I’m so glad I saw this in the newspaper and decided to come out and get informed and receive much needed beneficial items.
“Everything that I wasn’t able to get here today I plan on going to the store to purchase this weekend for tax-free hurricane supplies.”
More than 20 agencies or organizations that are anticipating being busy during the hurricane season were there, too. They had plenty of information for the crowd.
Deborah Latson was there as a representative of Elder Care Services.
“This is our first year participating in this event and we couldn’t have chosen a better one, considering that we are mandated to host our own disaster training for all of our elders,” said Latson. “My sister was actually affected dramatically by the past hurricane with no power and spoiled food for five days. So I know how important it is to spread the word to those who are not aware.”
Rachel Moore was simply glad she came, calling the information and supplies she received invaluable.
“This event was so worthwhile with all of the information, fun and supplies that were given today,” she said. “I will definitely be more than prepared for this year’s hurricane season.”