Season of preparation begins today
The Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center calls for an above-normal hurricane season this year, predicting 12 to 16 named storms and six to nine hurricanes, several of them major.
Forty-seven named storms affected Florida from 2000 to 2007, causing 68 fatalities and billions in damage. The worst was Charley, a Category 4 hurricane packing 130 mph winds when it hit in August 2004.
I worked in the city's Emergency Operations Center when Charley threatened the Gulf Coast. We became nervous when it set course for St. Petersburg and strengthened. Then, Charley unexpectedly hooked right and unleashed its full fury on Punta Gorda.
What would St. Petersburg look like after a massive hurricane? How would you or your family fare in a Katrina-sized storm?
The city of St. Petersburg has a Web site to help you prepare for a hurricane. Go to www.stpete.org/hurricane for information on preparing a hurricane survival kit and to find the evacuation level of your home.
You can also locate pet-friendly shelters or register for special-needs assistance in the event of an evacuation. So add this Web site to your "favorites" and go there for public safety information whenever a tropical storm approaches.
Also, remember the St. Petersburg Police Department may activate an Automated Telephone Dialing System to provide information. You will see either a "615" area code or "Dialogic Communications Corporation" on your caller ID.
This Internet-based system lets us send messages quickly.
Let's all prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Bill Proffitt, St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman