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Hurricane Supplies Tax-Free This Weekend

Gallons of drinking water sits on shelves.
Bobbie O'Brien
WUSF Public Media
Stores like this south Tampa Publix at Britton Plaza are stocked up for the tax-free hurricane supply weekend.

A three-day, tax-free holiday on hurricane supplies starts today and runs through Sunday. Legislators hope it will serve as an incentive for Floridians to stock up on supplies like batteries, gas containers, flashlights and portable generators costing $750 or less.

It prompted Tampa officials to use a South Tampa Publix as a backdrop for their annual hurricane season message.

Brian West, a public affairs manager with Publix, suggested using a strategy of buying only a few hurricane items each week as to not overload the family budget.

“It’s much easier, if you come in and grab a couple of packs of batteries, some water, on the next trip get that hurricane radio,” West said.

The tax-free weekend is a good time to buy more costly items like weather radios and generators because there will be no state and local sales tax.

Publix has partnered with Midland Radio Corporation to supply its weather radios ever since a 2007 tornado hit The Villages, according to Bruce Thomas, meteorologist and national spokesman for Midland.

“We ended up selling 100,000 radios after that tornado just in the Orlando and Ocala areas,” Thomas said.

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Officials recommend having a weather radio that sends out alerts when bad weather is approaching.

Thomas was part of the Tampa hurricane media event. He said it is an ideal market to introduce Midland’s new, seven-channel weather radio that carries local weather alerts. It is about the size of a smartphone and twice as thick and can be powered through a USB cord, a solar panel or a hand crank.

There’s also an LED flashlight with two settings and the light pulses SOS in Morse code if you’re in trouble. And smartphones and other electronics can be charged using the radio.

Taxes also will not be charged on coolers, reusable ice packs, tarps and battery-powered radios.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to four hurricanes are expected to be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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