Local News

Some residents prepare for hurricanes; others hope for the best

SEBRING - Sebring-area resident Brandi Hicks doesn't generally make hurricane preparations until she hears that a storm is approaching, she said Thursday. Similarly, Gilbert Hipps, another resident, said he has not really done any planning for a hurricane. "I don't really do anything," he said. "I tough it out." Hicks and Hipps are not alone in not preparing for a hurricane. Several other people in downtown Sebring Thursday also said they have done very little.
But some, such as Steve Swan, who is a resident and owner of two buildings on the circle, said they do a lot. Swan said he keeps a large amount of canned goods, water and plywood. "We try to be as prepared as possible," he said, adding he has too much investment in buildings in the community not to be prepared. State officials this week urged people to become prepared even though no hurricanes have struck this year so far. Scott Canaday, emergency management director for Highlands County, urged people to come up with a plan of what they would do in the event of a hurricane. "Just don't wait until the last minute," he said. Information about needed supplies is available on the county website, he said. Canaday said Highlands County already has plans in place and that emergency management holds at least one drill per year. "It doesn't matter if we have 50 coming or just one coming," he said in regards to the preparation aspect. He said they make sure county vehicles are ready to go, the county has enough fuel and generators are ready. Officials with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and Sebring Police Department said they also have plans they follow. Sebring Police Cmdr. Steve Carr said they know what they need to do, but a lot of it is reactive. If there's a threat of a hurricane, the Police Department will buy food and needed supplies for people who will stay there during the storm, he said. Joann Ulm, a resident, said she knows what she will do. She volunteers at a nursing home and is welcome to stay there should a hurricane occur. But Leslie Layport, a resident, said she hasn't done any planning, even though she knows she should. Some steps, such as obtaining water and food, are obvious. But some business owners say other things aren't so obvious. Making sure garage doors are adequate is important, said Brandi Rankin of Southwood Garage Doors & Screens. In many cases if a garage door blows off the house, it will go right through the roof, she said. Garage doors should be inspected every two years and hurricane bracing is important, she added. Robert Leopold, who owns a computer-related business, Mr. Technology, said people should unplug modems and telephone lines from computers. Surges of electricity can come through those devices and destroy computers, he said. Just unplugging the power line isn't enough, he added. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834