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.