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Improving community response 3 years after Hurricane Michael

How to get prepared for what lies ahead
Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 18:18:24-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Hurricane Michael is the most powerful storm to ever hit the Florida panhandle and the fourth most powerful in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.

It's been three years since the category five hurricane and people are still dealing with its impacts today.

A harrowing experience for so many people across the Big Bend and South Georgia, a look at how far Leon County has come to make sure people are prepared for future storms:

"We made sure we evacuated we just didn't want to take chances with the kids."

Shara Bryant, her husband, and 3 kids remember Hurricane Michael in 2018 like it was yesterday. They evacuated to Jacksonville before the storm, coming home to no power for one week.

"To actually drive through town and see streets were down because of trees, power lines, so even trying to maneuver getting back home was difficult."

No way to cook or do anything they need…they luckily had somewhere to turn. Down the street was Shara's mother-in-law, who only lost power for two days. Bryant says if they didn't have this, their lives would have looked much different.

"We would have had to evacuate again..."

The Bryant family aren't the only ones who are more prepared after this…the Leon County Emergency Management Agency says the only silver lining to their preparedness for Michael came from two previous storms, Hermine and Irma.

The EMA's role is to get the public what they need to know to stay safe and help the community recover after a storm hits.

Hurricane Michael taught them it's never too early to educate people on all communication platforms about how quickly a storm can form and how dangerous it can be. But people need to do some leg work, too.

Director, Kevin Peters, says people need to be careful not to anchor, or lock into, the first piece of information they hear.

"They miss all of the updates and they can become surprised when the effects start to happen they didn't realize it was such a dramatic change."

Since forecasts from the National Hurricane Center can change during an active storm, Peters says staying on guard during the entire life of the storm will give people a better chance to make the right decision.

"Whether it's strengthening or slowing down you definitely want to be able to stay prepared to take action."

The Leon County EMA says having a disaster plan and supply kit ready is also the first step to be prepared for storms in the future. Securing a generator is also helpful, especially if an individual needs electricity for health reasons.

The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.