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How Hurricane Charley changed how SWFL prepares for hurricane season

Posted at 11:08 PM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 23:08:26-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Friday August 13, 2004 Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda as a strong category 4 hurricane. There have been many changes since then, to enhance disaster preparedness.

“People with disabilities really were unaccounted for and nobody knew what was going on or where they were at, and those that did leave had no supplies, didn’t know how to build a backup kit,” said Linda Carter, Executive Director, No Person Left Behind.

Linda Carter started a non-profit after Hurricane Charley called No Person Left Behind. The website has all the information needed to know what a person with disabilities should have in their kit. For more information click here.

Lee County Electric Co-operative has made enhancements since Hurricane Charley.

“We now stage in multiple areas so we have equipment, people, and trucks, and they are ready to go as soon as the storm passes and it’s safe to work,” said Karen Ryan,LCEC Public Relations Manager.

During Charley 150,000 LCEC customers lost power, they now serve 219,000 customers.

“Develop those relationships, relationships with vendors so we had all the supplies we needed, manpower we needed, and to plan early,” said Ryan.

Ryan says the number one case of storm damage is vegetation and encourages homeowners to manage their landscape during hurricane season.

“We’ve stepped up our social media team so if we have another hurricane, we will be ready,” said Ryan

The Lee County Emergency Operations Center says it has also developed its social media presence since Hurricane Charley.

“From an alerting standpoint we can zap people on our phones if they sign up for some of our programs Alert Lee and Lee Prepares,” said Lee Mayfield, Director of Lee County Emergency Operations Center.

The facility they operate from is also new since 2004 and has helped the county enhance communication, "and work with our stakeholders, to make sure that when something happens, like a hurricane, we are all ready to respond and recover together.”

For more information how to prepare your family click here.

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