WEEK WACHEE — Anyone living in Hernando County during the summer of 2004 will remember how ugly things can get when the big winds blow.
Although not as devastating as they could have been, back-to-back hurricanes Frances and Jeanne served as a stark wake-up call of the power of nature's force. And lessons learned in the wake of those storms still serve as the cornerstone for the county's emergency management plan.
However, as county emergency management coordinator Cecilia Patella points out, a lot of time has passed. And that could be dangerous.
"The last thing you want going into hurricane season is to not be prepared," said Patella, coordinator of the annual Hurricane and Safety Expo that will take place Saturday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. "People who take the time to educate themselves as to what they should do before and after are likely to get through a storm with fewer problems."
Hernando residents — and especially recent transplants — should already be well versed as to what supplies they need, how to make their home storm-ready and where to find safe shelter if they are asked to evacuate.
However, Patella believes that the expo adds a hands-on element that people find compelling.
Visitors curious as to what it feels like to stand in tropical storm-force winds can step inside a specially designed hurricane simulator that produces winds up to 75 mph.
There also will be a session with local TV meteorologists and a representative of the National Weather Service.
The event also focuses on home safety, with demonstrations regarding everything from home security to how to properly handle a fire extinguisher.
The Red Cross will offer activities for children, and vendors will have information about hurricane-resistant overhead doors, shutters and windows; restoration services; emergency supplies; and roofing repairs.