CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — People who lived in Charlotte County in 2004 know what hurricane season can really mean.
They lived through a direct hit from a hurricane, Charley, back then.
We checked in with a top emergency manager in the county to get his take on where things stand as of Sunday afternoon, July 4.
Below is a transcript of our conversation with Patrick Fuller, Director of Emergency Management for Charlotte County.
WFTX: Patrick Fuller, Director of Charlotte County Emergency Management. Thank you so much for speaking with us. What is Charlotte County doing to prepare for what might be headed our way?
PATRICK FULLER/DIRECTOR OF CHARLOTTE CO. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: So we’ve been closely monitoring Elsa since it’s development. Normally with storms like this, you have a couple days in advance do to your preparedness measures. What we’ve been doing is leaning forward, because it’s the holiday weekend, if we had to do any sheltering operations, we leaned forward late last week. Knowing it’s a holiday weekend, it takes longer to get things done. We posture ourselves, if the forecast brought significant impacts here to Charlotte county, that we’d be able to respond quickly. We’ve done that. Right now, we’re monitoring the progress of the storm. We’ve gained a little time with the forward progress of the storm. I think we’re looking pretty good right now. And keeping a close eye on it in case it develops into more.
WFTX: Are there any unique challenges in Charlotte county that you’d like to remind people just to be aware of?
FULLER: Well, it’s true in Charlotte county. It’s true everywhere else in Southwest Florida, storm surge is always a threat that we’re concerned with. It appears that Elsa is not going to have a significant storm surge. But it’s something going into every hurricane season, we want individuals to know their zone. That means they know what hurricane evacuation zone they reside in, that they stay closely attuned to what the conditions are currently. And know that if we call for an evacuation, it’s because of safety.
WFTX: If Elsa does not turn out to be a serious impact for Southwest Florida, does that kind of serve as a dry run for the county and its residents?
FULLER: Yeah, this is an early season reminder that hurricane season is going to be here with us for the next several months, and if you didn’t already have your plan in place now. Now is certainly the time to get moving on your plan, developing your disaster kit, where you’re going to go if you have evacuate. Elsa may not be the storm that brings about the need for those things, but we certainly need to prepare now.
WFTX: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
FULLER: I’d just like to make sure everyone is doing those things they need to now. Know your risk. Know what zone you live in, make a plan. Know where you know you have to go if you have to evacuate. Develop a disaster kit, and stay in tune with the news and know what’s going on out there.
WFTX: Alright, Patrick Fuller director of the Charlotte County Emergency Management. Thank you so much for speaking with us.
FULLER: Thank you.