Polk residents recall 2004 hurricane season; officials say to be prepared

Hurricane Charley file photo

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – The impact of Tropical Storm Hermine is not expected to be as great in Polk County compared to coastal counties, but the area is no stranger to severe weather. Because of that, emergency management officials want people to be prepared.

Residents who lived through 2004’s hurricane season will never forget. During that year Mother Nature took aim and hit Lake Wales with a 1-2-3 punch.

On Wednesday News Channel 8 talked with residents at local sandbag locations. Many of those stocking up lived through the 2004 storms.

“Charley, Frances and Jeanne,” Polk County Emergency Management Director Pete McNally recalled. “People who were here and experienced it realize and remember just how bad it can be. When I go to talk to groups, I say ‘Don’t take it from me because I’m going to beat the drum until you get prepared. Talk to your neighbors who lived through it.'”

During that season VFW Post 2420 was used as a shelter. Member Jerry Phillips remembers that summer like it was yesterday.

“I lost my back porch down a lot of trees, down like we had a tornado upside down in the backyard,” Phillips said. “We were without power for about 15 days.”

With every story told there’s a good lesson: You can never be too prepared. “It would be a good idea for people to look back at it and at least have some kind of preparation plan in place,” Phillips said.

“Sometimes you can be cut off for four days. People can’t get to you, you can’t get out and there’s nowhere for you to go if you could get out. So it’s important that they be self-sufficient,” McNally said.

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s