Florida residents may be familiar with the wrath of hurricanes like Charley and Bonnie, but visitors are now being given fair warning, too. The state is taking the rare step of urging tourists to think twice before visiting for the holiday weekend.
It’s déjà vu at the state Emergency Operation Center where just weeks after Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida, state officials are scrambling to prepare for Frances.
Gov. Jeb Bush arrived for a briefing, saying he’s confident Florida is ready for round two even though folks are still picking up the pieces from Charley.
Gov. Jeb Bush says, “We’re really in the recovery phase on the west coast and frankly, some of the resources for Charley can be used and are in place for the response to Frances.”
The Emergency Operation Center has already moved to a level one activation with employees of every state agency on duty 24-7. The area of concern covers the entire east coast, with the potential for hurricane-force winds throughout most of the state.
Two and a half weeks ago after Hurricane Charley, the message to tourists was “please come to Florida. We are still open for business.” That message has changed. Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate says travelers need to weigh the risks.
Fugate says, “You need to start looking at what this storm is going to do, when it’s going to make landfall, how that’s going to affect your plans and put first and foremost your family’s safety above all other considerations. That may mean a lot of people are going to have to adjust and postpone vacation plans.”
It has been more than 50 years since Florida faced two major hurricanes in the same hurricane season. The state is promising not to pull any resources away from victims of Hurricane Charley, but will relocate equipment that's no longer needed.