Hurricane Expo educates the public – as first named storm approaches Florida

Saturday, June 4 dawned with clouds and the threat of rain, along with the first named storm of the season approaching Florida, so the timing for Hurricane Expo couldn’t have been better. . The Hernando County Emergency Management Department organized the event with the help of an educational grant from Duke Energy.

About forty vendors and exhibitors were on hand to give demonstrations and hand out literature to attendees. Most were county agencies or volunteer organizations, such as the Sheriff’s Office, Fire and Rescue, Civil Air Patrol, and Crime Watch. Among the companies represented were those that sold storm protection equipment, gutter protection and disaster remediation services. Three meteorologists representing local television stations moderated a round table discussion on the theme of hurricanes. Radio station WWJB and 103.9 FM the Boot broadcast live from Hernando Park in downtown Brooksville.

It is the first hurricane exhibit to be held since the Covid pandemic hit in 2020. Emergency management planner Brittany Brooks said that while she and her fellow organizers have had fewer three months to plan the exhibition, they were satisfied with the result. A total of around 438 people (including vendors and exhibitors) showed up at the event.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy the exhibit. Many left with all types of literature to share with their friends,” said Angel Thomas, emergency management specialist.

Brian Burback, fire department captain and crime watch coordinator for Ridge Manor, was there to explain what his organization does. Crime Watch Units are staffed entirely by volunteers and coordinate their efforts with the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Unit and Crime Prevention Assistants. They are always looking for volunteers. The only stipulation is that you must be twenty-one or older to drive the Crime Watch vehicle. There are approximately 25 neighborhood crime watch units in the county. For more information you can call 352-797-3660 or go to: https://www.hernandosheriff.org/CrimeWatch.aspx

Representatives of the local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) were also present to educate the public on their role in emergencies and disasters. Hernando County’s all-volunteer organization is made up of senior (adult) and cadet members ages 12-18. CAP has many facets, however, when it comes to hurricanes and other disasters, Civil Air Patrol has important functions.

“In a hurricane situation, our responses are coordinated by the state organization. We are going to areas with search and rescue operations, delivering food, water and other supplies to victims and helping with hurricane shelters,” said Richard Johnson, head of the public information at the CAP.

You can find out more about Civil Air Patrol at: https://fl301.cap.gov/ or follow them on their Facebook page: “Hernando County Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol”.

Flood prevention and stormwater remediation are extremely important for both hurricane preparedness and the aftermath of a major storm. John Burnett is a water resources specialist with the Hernando County Department of Public Works.

“If we have enough warnings, we will go out and do preventive maintenance in areas where we know we have problems. We will remove debris from drainage systems. After the storm, we will visit the hardest hit areas and determine if any infrastructure has been damaged, such as pipes, bridges or roads that may have been swept away,” Burnett noted. This work is critical to estimating the value of the damage so the county can apply for disaster relief funds.

An essential skill, not just in a hurricane or other natural disaster, but in any emergency, is knowing how to perform CPR. It’s a simple technique that even a child can learn. According to Vince Montefusco, training officer for the all-volunteer Hernando County Fire Department, 90 percent of people who need CPR don’t get it and die. In many cases, there was someone else present who could have performed the rescue technique and kept the person alive until paramedics arrived. Expo attendees

took a short CPR lesson and performed it on a dummy. The Hernando County Fire Department runs free classes in CPR and other first aid, but you can go to: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-do-chest-compressions-work-1298428 for an explanation of the technique.

The Fire and Rescue Department and the Sheriff’s Office were there to show off some of their gear. These included drones used by the two to help solve crimes, assist in search and rescue, locate victims in burning buildings and other operations. A future article will deal with this subject in depth.

This year’s long-awaited Hurricane Expo has provided life-saving tips and information that will come in handy in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

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