Saturday, June 4th dawned with clouds and the threat of rain, along with the first named storm of the season approaching Florida, so the timing of the 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.
Approximately forty vendors and exhibitors were on hand to give demonstrations and pass out literature to attendees. Most were county agencies or volunteer organizations, such as the Sheriff’s Office, Fire and Rescue, the Civil Air Patrol, and Crime Watch. Among the businesses represented were those selling storm equipment, gutter protection and disaster remediation services. Three meteorologists representing local television stations conducted a panel discussion on the subject of hurricanes. Radio station WWJB and 103.9 FM the Boot did a live broadcast from the location at Hernando Park in downtown Brooksville.
This is the first Hurricane Expo that has been held since the Covid pandemic struck in 2020. Emergency Management Planner Brittany Brooks stated that, although she and her fellow organizers had less than three months to plan the expo, they were pleased with the outcome. In total, approximately 438 people (including vendors and exhibitors) showed up for the event.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy the expo. Many left with all types of literature to share with their friends,” stated Angel Thomas, Emergency Management Specialist.
Brian Burback, a captain with the fire department and Ridge Manor Crime Watch Coordinator, was there to explain what his organization does. Crime Watch units are comprised entirely of volunteers and coordinate their efforts with the COPS (Community Oriented Policing) unit and Crime Prevention deputies. They are always looking for volunteers. The only stipulation is that you have to be twenty-one or over in order to drive the Crime Watch’s 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
Also on hand to educate the public about their part in emergency and disaster situations were representatives of the local Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The Hernando County all-volunteer organization is composed of senior members (adults) and cadets−those ages 12 to 18. There are many facets to CAP, however, in relation to hurricanes and other disasters, the Civil Air Patrol has important duties.
“In a hurricane situation our responses are coordinated by the state organization. We go into the areas with search and rescue operations, delivering food and water and other supplies to the victims and helping at hurricane shelters,” stated Richard Johnson, public information officer with the CAP.
You can find out more about the Civil Air Patrol at: https://fl301.cap.gov/ or follow them on their Facebook page: “Hernando County Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol.”
Prevention of flooding and stormwater remediation is extremely important in both hurricane preparedness and the aftereffects of a major storm event. John Burnett is a Water Resources Specialist with the Hernando County Department of Public Works.
“If we have enough warning, we’ll go out and do preventive maintenance in areas where we know we have problems. We’ll remove debris from drainage systems. After the storm we’ll visit the areas that were hit the hardest and determine if any of the infrastructure was damaged, such as pipes, bridges or roadways that may have been washed away,” Burnett remarked. This work is vital in estimating the value of the damages so the county can apply for disaster relief funds.
A skill that is essential, not just in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, but in any emergency situation is knowing how to perform CPR. It’s a simple technique that even a child can learn. According to Vince Montefusco, training officer with the all-volunteer Hernando County Fire Corps, 90% of the people who need CPR don’t receive it and they die. In many of the cases, there was someone else present who could have performed the life-saving technique and kept the person alive until paramedics arrived. Attendees at the expo
had a short lesson in CPR and performed it on a dummy. The Hernando County Fire Corps conducts free classes in CPR and other First Aid, however 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 equipment. These included drones utilized by both to help solve crimes, assist in search and rescue, locate victims in burning buildings and other operations. A future article will cover this topic in depth.
This year’s long-awaited Hurricane Expo provided tips and information that will come in handy in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster−and just may save someone’s life.