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READY? Florida's top emergency manager wants to be prepped for multiple storms

Director Kevin Guthrie also told FOX 4's Senior Reporter Ryan Kruger that Lee County is a good 2 and a half years ahead of its expected recovery timeline after Ian.
Posted at 5:46 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 18:06:28-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida’s Emergency Management Director says Lee County’s recovery from Hurricane Ian is more than two years ahead of schedule.

Ahead of what is anticipated to be an active Hurricane Season, Director Kevin Guthrie of the Florida Division of Emergency Management met with several local emergency managers on Thursday to assess the needs of Southwest Florida.

“I would say (Lee County) is about two-and-a-half years ahead than we would be under comparable storms, like a Hurricane Michael or Hurricane Irma. So, we are moving faster. I know for some people it’s not fast enough,” said Guthrie, of the recovery since the storm.

Ryan Kruger Florida Emergency Management Director
On Thursday, May 9 FOX 4's Senior Reporter Ryan Kruger talked with Florida's Emergency Management Director about how he was preparing differently for the 2024 Hurricane Season.

Guthrie says the state annually prepares for three strikes from landfalling hurricanes.

However, given the multiple forecasts calling for an active season, Guthrie says this year he’s pushing his staff to prepare for more.

“Think 2004 where we had 4 storms in one year. We are preparing in that direction, so we know what our preparations are and we know where our gaps are,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie Emergency Manager Florida.jpg
On Thursday, May 9, 2024, Florida's Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie talked about changing the messaging around evacuations in the upcoming hurricane season so residents don't overreact or ignore them.

Aside from the busy season, Guthrie is also pushing for a more polished message on evacuations across the state.

“In Hurricane Irma we over-evacuated Southeast Florida by two million people. They didn’t need to be on the road,” said Guthrie. “And everybody remembers that picture of all those interstates lined up of people at a dead standstill. Two million of those people did not need to evacuate.”

The message from all the emergency directors is for people to get prepared early.

This year, for the first time, the state is holding two, two-week long sales tax holidays for hurricane preparedness.

The first will run from June 1st through the 14th.

The second runs from August 24th through September 6th, near the peak of hurricane season.