TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane season is less than a month away, and the City of Tampa is doing its best to get residents ready.
“We wanted to start a little bit earlier,” explained Fire Marshal John Reed. “We know that the storms are starting to get bigger and they’re actually coming a little sooner in the season.”
Tampa Fire Rescue held their first Hurricane Preparedness Expo on Saturday afternoon, and Reed said several hundred people attended, picking up sandbags and getting important hurricane information.
“People get complacent, but you really can’t do that in Florida,” Reed said. “It only takes one, right? And everybody says, ‘How many storms are we going to have? And how many major hurricanes?’ It really only takes one.”
Tampa Fire Rescue sent plenty of residents home with trunks and cars full of sandbags.
“Tampa’s a wonderful city,” said Tampa resident Barbara Vanairsdale. “But it’s also threatened by hurricanes, and after being in three major ones, I definitely want to be prepared and know everything I can to be safe.”
Vanairsdale said she went through Hurricanes Irma, Wilma and most recently, Ian.
“First time in my life I was in a little place that I wasn’t familiar with,” Vanairsdale recalled. “It was kind of frightening being in a, what I found out was a trailer, and being told to evacuate with no place to go.”
Fire Marshal Reed said Hurricane Ian’s impact is putting people on high alert this season.
“I think it creates a heightened awareness anytime you have — call it a near miss,” Reed said.
More than a dozen other organizations joined in the expo, including the Red Cross and the Community Emergency Response Team.
“We definitely want everybody to understand how important it is to be prepared and take action now to get everything you need,” Reed said. “Understand what the requirements are for you to be safe should a hurricane come our way.”
Tampa Fire Rescue plans on having more preparedness expos and other safety events as hurricane season looms.