SEBRING — The Hurricane Preparedness Expo is back by popular demand from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Lakeshore Mall.

The Highlands News-Sun has partnered with the Highlands County Board of County Commission and the Emergency Operations Center to create this family-friendly, two-day event filled with fun and information.

The event’s title sponsors are Southwood Garage Doors and Highlands Urgent Care. Center stage, where speakers and demonstrations will be featured, is sponsored by Duke Energy. Event sponsors are Taylor Rental and Bassetti Medical Research Inc.

About 50 vendors will be educating guests on the latest products and services to help local residents prepare personal property like homes and vehicles for storm season.

Vendors will run the gamut from A to Z and include damage mitigation, generators, roof protection, health care and more. Other vendors will explain how to best protect property with proper insurance. Vendors will have products and resources available for the public to preview to help prepare for potential storms, including protection during storms and home repair for after storms.

“Hurricanes are serious business in South Florida,” Vice President and Group Publisher of D-R Media and Investments Tim Smolarick said. “While there is a lot of attention statewide, we feel it is our duty to the community to inform residents of both the peril of potential storms and communication efforts in their aftermath if we are hit by another hurricane like we were by Irma in 2017.”

Guest speakers from Highlands County Emergency Operations Center will share how to stay up-to-date on weather conditions, curfews, evacuations and more by signing up for cell phone applications and using hand-crank weather radios in the event of a power outage.

EOC speakers will also share information on special needs shelters and signing up for them. Information on emergency shelter locations will also be shared.

ABC Channel 7 Chief Meteorologist Bob Harrigan will be taking center stage at 11:30 a.m. Friday to share his experience and expertise with tropical weather. WFLA Storm Team 8’s Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve will speak on center stage at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Kids Zone, sponsored by Servpro, will be a special place for the kids to play games, explore and well, be kids.

“Last year’s Hurricane Preparedness Expo was a big hit,” Highlands News-Sun Advertising Director Cliff Yeazel said. “We have found a way to make learning about tropical storms and hurricanes fun for the entire family.”

“Partnering with the HCBCC and EOC makes perfect sense,” Smolarick said. “They are highly in-tune with the needs of the community. We are very excited to put this event on and having fun doing it. Hopefully we won’t have a hurricane but if we do, we will all be better prepared for it.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30. In April, Accuweather meteorologists released its predictions for the 2019 storm season, calling for 2019 to be a “near normal to slightly above normal” season, calling for 12 to 14 named storms with five to seven of them expected to become hurricanes, and two to four likely to become major hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a “near normal season,” according to Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for NOAA. The center is predicting nine to 15 named storms with the possibility that eight to 14 could become hurricanes at 74 mph winds and two to four major hurricanes at a Category 3 or higher.


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