OC employee working a booth for Hurricane Expo

Orange County Hurricane Expo Prepares Citizens for Storm Season

Community & Services Public Health & Safety

Hundreds of citizens learned how to best prepare for the season and received free storm supplies at Orange County’s 2015 Hurricane Expo in June. Plan. Prepare. Be Ready! was the theme of this year’s Hurricane Expo.

“Even though it’s been more than a decade since the last major hurricane in Central Florida in 2004, it’s no time to be complacent when it comes to preparedness,” said Dave Freeman, manager of Orange County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). “It only takes one.”

At the Expo, held June 6 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, several Orange County offices and partner agencies educated citizens on how best to protect their homes from the potentially devastating effects of unexpected storms and severe weather. It is vital that citizens put together a detailed safety plan for their families and pets to prepare for the season.

Information hand-outs and live demonstrations educated citizens on the best way to track storms, how to pack a disaster kit, first aid administration, and planning for pets during severe weather. Orange County also distributed emergency radios, first aid kits and keychain flashlights to citizens.

“This was an extremely informative event and I look forward to it every year,” said East Orlando resident Bob Scarborough. “I am now equipped with a weather radio and lots of information to be prepared and ready this hurricane season.”

The forecast for the 2015 season predicts three to six hurricanes and six to 11 named storms. Florida’s hurricane season started June 1 and ends November 30.

National Weather Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) experts answered questions and shared information on potential flooding, high wind damage and potential property losses. Tom Sorrells, chief meteorologist at WKMG-Local 6, also met with citizens and shared information on weather conditions before and during a storm.

Disaster information during a storm can be accessed by downloading Orange County’s free smartphone applications. OCFL Alert provides open shelter locations, water and ice distribution centers, evacuation routes, public service announcements and much more; the OCFL News app provides breaking news, and the OCFL 311 app allows users to photograph, pinpoint and report any problem encountered before, during or after the storm directly to Orange County’s 311 Service Center. OCFL 311 also maps relevant community information that may impact neighborhoods.

Citizens can also register for the OC Alert system, which sends emergency alerts, notifications and life-saving instructions via text message to cell phones and email accounts.

After an emergency, Orange County’s newest app OCFL Serves is a convenient way to search and sign up for volunteer and community service opportunities.

For more information on preparing for the hurricane season, visit Orange County’s online hurricane guide.

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