Some people came because memories of last year’s Hurricane Irma made them laugh. Some people came because memories of Hurricane Irma made them cringe. But the more than 200 people that came to Broward County's open house for hurricane preparedness in Fort Lauderdale's Sistrunk neighborhood on Saturday were all trying to make summer storm plans.
“Got some hand sanitizer, flashlights, first-aid kit…” Brian Bush said, as he dumped out his ‘Get A Plan!’ bag full of hurricane supplies.
Bush came to collect supplies and pamphlets with a group from Praise Tabernacle International, a church in Plantation. He says he still hates thinking about last year, when he said he lost power for five days.
“Oh God,” he said. “It was horrific. It got up to 84 degrees in my condo…if it hits again this year I’m leaving!”
His good friend Rachelle Cela said it was just the thought of another Irma that scared her to start thinking about what she would do earlier.
“I was not ready, but thankfully my church family looked out for me and gave me some supplies - I was not ready at all,” she said. “So this year, because I learned last year, I gotta be on top of it.”
This is the fourth year that Broward County has held this type of preparedness open house inside of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Sistrunk. Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas, is the special prjects coordinator from Broward’s Human Services Department, was handing out the first-aid kits. She said more people are taking precautions seriously this year than last.
“We prepared for 200 and we had such a rush of people coming in…that I may have to go back to the office to pick up additional information,” she said about halfway through the event. “I think people are very interested in knowing how they can handle the next hurricane season.”
In one of the library’s auditoriums, the county also put on a seminar about a new tree ordinance that recently went into effect ahead of this year’s hurricane season.
The ordinance prohibits planting trees too close to power lines. If a tree is expected to grow up to 20 feet tall, then it can’t be planted within 20 feet of a power line. The new rule was approved in early May for unincorporated Broward and violations could lead to fines starting at $150 dollars.
Annie Boyd wanted to make sure her Fort Lauderdale neighbors with messy yards got the message:
“My neighbor, they call me 'Ms. Busybody', and 'nosy'. But they got a lot of trees, especially right across from my house,” she said. “We were out of power this year for about a week, and I don’t want to deal with that.”
Residents with tree or code concerns can call Broward County's 3-1-1 hotline.
For other hurricane services and questions, Broward County's 2-1-1 hotline connects residents to up-to-date shelter information for the 2018 season.
You can still register a senior or someone with disabilities for the county's Vulnerable Populations Registry, here.