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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Locals remember past hurricanes as Tropical Storm Erika nears Florida

<p>James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster, looks at an image of Tropical Storm Erika as it moves westward towards islands in the eastern Caribbean, at the National Hurricane Center, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Miami.</p>

James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster, looks at an image of Tropical Storm Erika as it moves westward towards islands in the eastern Caribbean, at the National Hurricane Center, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Miami.

Sarah Wolff and her family lived without power for two weeks, playing board games and reading books to pass time as the storm raged.

Wolff’s Ocala home was one of many affected 10 years ago as several hurricanes and tropical storms paved way across the Sunshine State, knocking out power and causing floods with torrential downpour.

With Tropical Storm Erika nearing Florida, locals are remembering the hurricanes of the past.

"Everybody in the neighborhood had at least one broken window from some... kind of loose objects because no one thinks to take in potted plants or anything else they have in their yard, which automatically in high winds becomes a flying projectile," the 23-year-old Santa Fe art sophomore said.

The scene in Gainesville wasn’t much different. Downed trees and limbs saturated the city, and a few areas flooded. The city didn’t suffer like some others, but those who were prepared lived a bit more comfortably during the storms.

Now, as Tropical Storm Erika nears, the potential for another hurricane impacting Florida seems more likely.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said Erika is projected to become a category 1 hurricane, the lowest ranking.

Projected paths show Erika as possibly impacting Florida as early as Sunday. But, Feltgen stressed, there are too many possibilities to know exactly what will happen and when.

For now, Floridians are advised to begin preparing for a potential hurricane.

UF Family, Youth and Community Sciences Professor Mike Spranger was in Gainesville in 2004 and ‘05 when the hurricanes and tropical storms hit. Back then, he said people were more prepared for a hurricane.

But now, he worries hurricanes are an afterthought.

"The problem we have today is people have gotten complacent," he said.

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If you’re not well prepared, Spranger said, "that could be dangerous."

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

Fill your car with gas

Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting, and keep the door closed for as long as possible to make sure food lasts if power is lost.

Bring in bicycles, furniture and anything that can be picked up with the wind

Have at least three days worth of non-perishable food and water

Have a flashlight and extra batteries

  • www.redcross.org

  • nhc.noaa.gov

  • emergency.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Student-Hurricane-Brochure_May-2014.pdf

James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster, looks at an image of Tropical Storm Erika as it moves westward towards islands in the eastern Caribbean, at the National Hurricane Center, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Miami.

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