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Times photographer Scott Keeler covered Hurricane Charley, shown below, as it came ashore in Punta Gorda in 2004. As he waited anxiously at an airport with emergency officials, a clipboard came around. "Name and Social Security," he was instructed. What came next was a "day of hell." Watch the video and listen to him describe those harrowing and life-changing hours.

Tips, warnings and useful information to prepare you for this hurricane season.


When fury strikes

Twenty years ago, Hurricane Andrew roared into South Florida as a category 5 storm. Its toll: 15 deaths directly from the hurricane, $30 billion in property damage, 250,000 left homeless, 82,000 businesses left damaged or destroyed. The stories below reflect on the changes that came out of this catastrophic event. We also wanted to take this time to remind you about Hurricane Charley, a storm that had been predicted to come ashore in Tampa Bay as a category 2 in 2004. Instead, it took a hard turn right and slammed into Punta Gorda as a Category 4 storm. The devastating storm caused 10 deaths in the United States and $14 billion in losses. Many in that area were caught unprepared, thinking the storm was going to hit Tampa Bay. And what if it had? Would you have been prepared?

Andrew 20 years later:

Hurricane 2012 primer

Stay connected

A history lesson

Your hurricane evacuation zone

Get ready now

As the storm approaches

After it passes

Hurricane preparedness for 2012 Florida hurricane season

The Tampa Bay Times presents a one stop news and information resource space to get Tampa Bay prepared for the 2012 Florida hurricane season.

Within this hurricane guide, you will find tips for ways to get organized before a storm hits, covering everything from hurricane insurance to exit strategies and ways to hurricane proof your home.

If a large tropical storm or hurricane lands in Tampa Bay, our hurricane preparedness resource has answers to questions about everything from what to include in a disaster kit to what documents to take with you and what is needed for emergency shelter registration.

In the case of a storm, we also have info for staying connected with what is going on related to a natural disaster via Twitter and other social media resources that quickly become necessary for communication when disaster strikes.

Lastly, you will also find tips for disaster clean up after a major hurricane or storm has passed, such as dealing with flood damage and food safety.

We hope you find this resource helpful as you prepare for the 2012 Florida hurricane season.

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