Public Safety Teams Conduct Test Run Ahead of Hurricane Season

Posted May 19, 2016

Since 2004, the population of Marion County has grown by 41,500 people, to more than 330,000 people. No one knows how many of the new residents have experience with hurricanes.

(TNS) - Marion County emergency officials say that each time they speak to community groups, they become more concerned about inexperience and complacency as hurricane season approaches.

It has been nearly 12 years since Marion County has been hit by a hurricane. In 2004, two storms — Frances and Jeanne — battered 3,000 homes and caused $30 million in damages across the area. And those were tropical storms, only packing 45 mph winds when they toppled trees across the area.

Since that time, there has been a hurricane drought. In fact, it has been more than a decade since Florida has been hit by a hurricane — the longest no-hurricane streak on record.

“At these community meetings, I always ask, ‘How many of you were living in Marion County in 2004 when we last had a hurricane?’ ” said Marion County Sheriff's Office Capt. Chip Wildy, the county’s emergency management director. “And less than half the people raise their hands. That means we have a lot of inexperience out there.”

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