Hillsborough County officials prepare for Hurricane season

05/21/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:


Hurricane Season begins in Florida in 11 days, so today members of the Hillsborough Emergency Management team met with the media to tell the public they’re prepared to contend with hurricanes should they come this way this summer.


Hillsborough Emergency Manager  Director Larry Gispert’s advice for everybody who lives in the County is the old Boy Scouts Maxim (roll tape#1 o.q.” Be Prepared”)


Officials warned that because the Tampa Bay Area hasn’t had to contend with anything significant since the tumultuous 2004 Summer Season, complacency has inevitably crept in.  County Administrator Pat Bean (roll tape#2 o.q.”complacent about it”)


But Gispert also alerted people that the catastrophe that was Hurricane Katrina was in due in part to the levees breaking in  New Orleans, not a comparable situation to the Tampa Bay Area.(roll tape#3 o.q.”New Orleans”)


Nearly a year ago, Max Mayfield, the just retired Director of the National Hurricane Center, told Congress that the Tampa Bay Area remains one of the most vulnerable areas in the country for a hurricane. 


But EOC Director Larry Gispert warned Hillsborough – and Tampa Bay residents, that they haven’t really been through anything that major – even though 2 of the 4 storms in the summer of 2004 knocked out power in the bay area for days  (roll tape#4 o.q”45 miles an hour”)


Gispert and other officials stressed, as they have in the past, that people need a plan as to where they would go if they live in an evacuation zone.


He also stressed that whether it be the elderly, Spanish speaking people, those with disabilities or special needs, that plans are in place now to take care and pick up those people.  But they need to research who or what that system would be now, not days or hours before a potentially killer storm beckons


Gispart also says that in the event of an evacuation, buses will run for free and come every 20 minutes at appropriately listed stops(roll tape#    5 o.q.”PEOPLE up”)


In Hillsborough County, officials say they have identified areas in Dover and Wimauma – the site of many seasonal farm workers , who may not have autos, to bring school buses to bring them to shelters


There are people who have pets  who learned in 2004 that they couldn’t bring their pets with them.  Marti Ryan is with the Hillsborough County Animal  Services.  She says there are 2 approved shelters, one at Sickles High School and Burnett Middle School in Seffner – but she says they should only be for a last resort, because of limited space.


She also says that it would be ideal to have your pet get a microchip implanted in them

  (roll tape# 6 o.q.”well under 50 bucks”)


And the animals must have rabies shots before they’ll be accepted at any shelter

(roll tape#7 oq.we don’t want that”)


To end the News Conference, Hillsborough Emergency Operations Center Manager Larry Gispart said if people can take care of themselves before a hurricane comes, more power to them – but there are people dependent on the government – and saving lives is something that his department is all about for those who need help (roll tape$8 o.q.”evacuate”)  

  The County will also have a town hall meeting for Hispanics at Leto High School on June the 5th, to give them all of the relevant information to prepare for hurricane season.

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