homepage logo

Players Circle hosts hurricane seminar

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jun 25, 2021

Chief Meteorologist John Patrick, ABC-7, was the lead speaker at the hurricane seminar held Wednesday.

Watching a hurricane seminar on YouTube or on Zoom isn’t quite the same as experiencing one in person.

Last year, Zoom seminars was the only way people could learn how to prepare for a hurricane because of the COVID pandemic.

On Wednesday, in a full Players Circle Theater, local residents could take in a live hurricane seminar, featuring experts in the field and local dignitaries.

Jody Van Cooney, as she has for many years, served as the moderator for the event. She brought up keynote speaker John Patrick, chief meteorologist for ABC-7, who discussed how global warming has made hurricanes more commonplace.

So much so that updated climate data has us now averaging 12 to 14 named storms annually, with seven hurricane and three major hurricanes.

We have already had three named storms this season, and with La Nina in place which results in a decrease in wind sheer and westerly winds, that creates more likelihood of storms.

Patrick said with the proclivity of preseason storms, there’s a possibility in a few years of the hurricane season starting earlier, around May 15, instead of June 1.

“We can’t even use the Greek alphabet anymore because we retired four named storms and two of them were from the Greek alphabet,” Patrick said of the record-setting 30 storms that hit last year. “We needed a secondary list of names. We are ready for 42 named storms.”

County Commissioner Brian Hamman spoke about having a plan to evacuate, and maybe even a secondary plan.

“We engineered homes after Andrew to withstand the wind, but we can’t engineer to protect from flooding,” Hamman said. “You need a plan to get out during a storm.”

And if you end up at a shelter, like 34,000 Lee County residents did during Irma in 2017, understand that you’re not checking into a hotel.

“You’ll probably be sleeping on the floor. Consider a shelter a life boat, not The Love Boat,” Hamman said.

Sandra Tapfumaneyl of Emergency Medical Services talked about when and how they decide which shelters to open, special needs shelters for those with health conditions (which you must pre-register for), and the precautions you need to take following the storm, such as watching for downed power lines.

She and others also warned that stores will be closed and that electricity may not be available for days (or even weeks). So, it might be a good idea to have three days of food and water on hand, since it will take that long before much help can arrive.

Kim Berghs of the United Way spoke of the services they provide before and after hurricanes and the need for volunteers for agencies.

Robert Rhoad of the United States Postal Service spoke about their importance, while John Wells of Amateur Radio Emergency Services talked bout their importance during major storms, when their remote setups become the only source of communication between entities in the immediate aftermath.

There was also a brief question and answer period and door prizes and hurricane information packets given to all who attended.