With so many people suffering because of the economy, it is almost overwhelming that those of us living in Florida soon will have hurricane season to worry about, too. Perhaps that is why libraries in Pinellas County this week will launch a series of public workshops advertised as "free and fun" to help everyone prepare for hurricane season without getting stressed out. An additional emphasis for the workshops: how to prepare without spending a lot of money.
Every year the experts tell us how important it is to prepare in advance for hurricane season, which starts June 1. Preparation can save property and lives if a storm hits, and knowing you are prepared can reduce stress.
The Pinellas Public Library Cooperative has partnered with Pinellas County government's Communications Department to sponsor a series of six workshops that will be repeated until July at various libraries, most of them in mid and North Pinellas. The workshops are:
• Becoming Storm Savvy — Getting prepared, planning for evacuation, assembling your survival kit on a budget.
• Hurricane 101 — How do hurricanes form? How do they do their damage?
• Busting Hurricane Myths — Learn the truth and dispel the myths about hurricanes.
• Hurricanes for Kids — Using experiments and other teaching tools, presenters will help children understand hurricane season and how they can feel some measure of control, even in a storm.
• Preparing Your Pets — Learn tips about how to keep your pets safe in a hurricane.
• Does It Take A Category 5? — Does a hurricane have to be a "big one" to do major damage? Learn about the Saffir-Simpson scale used to categorize hurricanes.
The next workshop, "Becoming Storm Savvy," will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Pinellas Park Public Library, 7770 52nd St., Pinellas Park. Call (727) 541-0718 for information or to register for the free session. "Hurricane 101" will be held in the same location at 2 p.m. April 6.
The hurricane workshops will be repeated during the day and in the evenings in libraries in Dunedin, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, Largo, Seminole and Palm Harbor. For a schedule of sessions, times and locations, visit this Web site, pinellascounty.org/newsrel.htm#presentations, or call (727) 464-5573.
Russel Honore, the now-retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who worked to bring Katrina-devastated New Orleans back from the brink, will bring his message about the importance of hurricane preparedness to the Tampa Bay area Friday. He is the scheduled keynote speaker for Friday's Heroes Luncheon sponsored by the America Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter.
More than most, Honore understands the consequences of poor preparation for hurricane season. He has cautioned against relying on FEMA or even local authorities to be able to respond immediately with supplies and shelter.
With hurricane season still two months away, now is a good time to get educated and get ready.