With another active hurricane season predicted, experts are advising people to prepare evacuation plans, survival supplies and emergency contact lists early, but average citizens aren't the only ones that need to get ready.
Emergency operation centers are also preparing.
A hurricane makes landfall in central Florida, and even though Jackson County isn't taking a direct hit, it's feeling the effects of tornadoes spawned by the storm.
Laura Mager, Jackson County Public Information Officer, says, “We're dealing with some hurricane exercises that are centered around ground tornado activity coming through Gulf and Liberty Counties, and seeing what the backslash is here in Jackson County.”
In preparation for hurricane season, Jackson County's Emergency Operations Center is running through a mock drill, dealing with the effects of fictitious Hurricane Zoey.
As the EOC staff takes on this pretend storm, they're facing potentially real problems. "Zoey" has taken out a major power grid. The majority of the public is without power. Many are using generators.
Bill Dean with Environmental Health says, “We would be getting out messages to the public through the media about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, where they should place their generators, to be careful when using those generators, that they are not killed in the process.”
Since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 EOCs across the state have been running this drill every year. Jackson County saw major damage from tornadoes in 2004, but EOC officials know things could have been a lot worse.
Katrina was a big eye opener for emergency personnel throughout the southeast. We’re really trying to make sure that Florida's prepared and that Jackson County isn't affected like other counties in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana especially.
Hurricane season starts June 1. Emergency operation centers all over Florida have been running mock drills all week. They'll run the last of the exercises Friday.