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Pasco County Shows It Is Ready For Hurricanes

Flooded road and ditch in Pasco County.
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Pasco County officials say they feel prepared as we enter hurricane season.

Despite only receiving 1.28 inches of rain during the first named storm of the season, Pasco County officials say they pulled out all the stops to test its preparedness.

Flood-prone zones were pumped free of water, fire rescue crews were paid overtime to operate high-water rescue vehicles and sandbagging operations across the county were made available for residents to build their own makeshift levees.

"Tropical Storm Alberto showed that we are ready," Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County's head of public safety said. "All the necessary things we did, everybody was in compliance with and right in line with."

Guthrie says all these precautions were part of a typical response from the county. He says a history of emergencies including summer storms in 2015, 2016 and  sinkholes scattered across Pasco serve as plenty of real-world experience for response teams.

"We were pleased with the way the community responded during Tropical Storm Alberto," Guthrie said. "Nobody rushed to gas stations and did anything out of the ordinary. They did exactly what we told them and asked them to do, so we believe that we are very prepared for this 2018 hurricane season."

He says Pasco County showed it is ready for the above-average hurricane season, as projected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75 percent chance of an average to above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year. After a dry season with above-average rainfall, Florida will likely feel the impacts of hurricanes even if they don't land on the peninsula. 

"We're expecting the worst and hoping for the best here in Pasco County," Guthrie said. "But we are prepared as a county government to respond to the needs that the community has."

Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
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