Yes, Charlotte County needs a hurricane shelter plan. But, not the plan proposed by Babcock Ranch executives and a few of our commissioners.
We need a meeting with residents who were here during “Charley” in 2004 and Irma in 2017. Charley was a narrow hurricane with winds of 150 to 170 mph. Charley made a 90-degree turn as it reached the warm waters of Charlotte Harbor. Weather forecasters had predicted the storm to hit Tampa. Mobile homes suffered serious damage and roofs were torn off homes in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. Homes and businesses lost windows when impacted by flying debris. There was no time to evacuate to shelters.
Hurricane Irma’s direction was so unpredictable. Residents were told that water surge was the real threat. Weather forecasters created panic for weeks. Many areas of Charlotte County were not affected. Residents who fled to the east Coast, Orlando and Georgia were hit by the storm.
Residents and our commissioners need local meetings to assess the needs and available resources. Then we can plan for more local shelters.
Funding a Babcock Ranch shelter is not the solution. The underhanded way that Babcock Ranch site was proposed should make all residents of Charlotte County question who is really looking out for our safety and our finances.