With the beginning of the Hurricane Season June 1, a local church hosted its annual Hurricane/Emergency Prepared-ness Seminar to educate North Fort Myers community residents on what to do, where to go and how to handle cases of severe weather.
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church held the Hurricane/Emergency Preparedness Seminar Wednesday, May 23, at the church, located on Trail Dairy Circle, across from Del Tura Country Club.
"We've been presenting this Hurricane Preparation Workshop for the last four years," said Pastor Tom Willets. "We do this because so few people in North Fort Myers are native Floridians or have experienced the devastation of a hurricane. I have.
"I lived through Andrew in Miami over 20 years ago," he related. The devastation then was something that always sticks in his mind.
Gerald Campbell, chief of planning from the Lee County Emergency Management Office, was the keynote speaker.
"My top tip is to remember that hurricanes are a reality in Southwest Florida," he said. "Make a plan, know where you will go, what you will take, how you will get there and when you will leave. Those are the most basic things."
He also spoke about how to prepare your home in case of a hurricane or severe weather.
"Safeguard your home," he said. "Protect your windows, protect your garage door and insure the integrity of your roof."
He also gave his predictions of the upcoming hurricane season.
"The official forecast is slightly below average," he said of the number of severe storms.
"Public complacency and apathy are the biggest concerns," said Brian LaMarre, head of the National Weather Service office in Ruskin, Fla., in a prepared statement.
Gary Olson, Chairman of the Disaster Team at Good Shepherd, said, "Everyone needs to be alert to weather conditions and know what actions to take should a hurricane, tornado or a severe storm impact our area."
According to Jill Hasling, CCM and president of the Weather Research Center in Houston, there is a 46 percent chance of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane to form this year in the Atlantic. There's also a high chance that three additional tropic storms or hurricanes will make landfall somewhere along the United States coast.
"We're forecasting a 60 percent chance of a tropical storm or hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Key West, Fla., and along the Georgia to North Carolina coast during the 2012 hurricane season," said Hasling in a prepared statement. "We believe there will be eight named storms with five of them intensifying into hurricanes."