The 2012 hurricane season starts June 1 and the local chamber of commerce wants area residents and businesses to be prepared.
The Greater Sun City Center Chamber will host a free hurricane readiness symposium called Riding the Storm from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at Community Hall, 1910 S. Pebble Beach Blvd. The event will include about 20 vendors, door prizes and the sale of food and beverages. Reservations are not required.
"It's designed to educate everyone on how to prepare for a hurricane, including what to do before it gets here, how to stay safe and what happens afterward," said Kristi Mahoney, office manager at the Chamber of Commerce.
Dan Noah, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, will lead a slate of five speakers. He'll be discussing hurricane impact and what's in store for this hurricane season.
"Before Katrina, freshwater flooding killed more people than storm surge, but now storm surge is our greatest threat," he said.
While Sun City Center residents do not live in a storm-surge zone, their homes are vulnerable to wind, freshwater flooding and tornadoes, Noah said.
"If you live in Ruskin, Apollo Beach or along any coastal area, you're definitely in it and at risk," Noah said.
That's because the average elevation of South Shore's coastal communities is only a few feet above sea level, he said. Even a Category 1 hurricane can bring a storm surge of 5 feet, depending on factors like where and when it hits and how fast it's traveling.
"If you're asked to leave and you don't, you're playing weather roulette," Noah said.
Other speakers will include Bill Barron of CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team; Dan Coleman of Reel IT; Barb Roberts, a nurse with Lifelines Academy & Network; and Kevin Jackson of the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency.
"Just because we haven't had a direct hit here in decades doesn't mean we can afford to become complacent," said Dana Dittmar, the Chamber's executive director. "We have people in the area with special needs who require special preparation. We all need to be informed.
"This year could be the year."
For additional information, call (813) 634-5111.