Cape Coral prepares for hurricane season with expo at Mercola Market

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The City of Cape Coral hosted a hurricane preparedness expo Wednesday at Mercola Market.

The biggest difference this year is that all these people went through Hurricane Ian.

“We were completely ill-prepared for Ian,” said Cape Coral resident Mike Foraker. “We did not have the proper stockpile of water, non-perishable foods.”

“Cash was very scarce,” Foraker said. “I mean, I had a few hundred bucks on me, but that goes really quick when you’re, you know, buying food, buying water, trying to find fuel.”

After Ian, Foraker learned the importance of batteries and portable chargers for staying in touch with loved ones.

He joined hundreds of his neighbors at the expo.

“We’re going to have cash with us because we didn’t realize we’d have to need that much cash,” said Cape Coral resident Judith Felkel.

Some are making sure their preps include more cash for essentials in case power and internet are knocked offline.

Others are learning the importance of evacuating earlier to avoid heavy traffic and delays.

“I’m not going to wait until it’s 50 miles off shore,” said Cape Coral resident David Ott. “I’m going to make that decision. In the future, I’d make the decision further out than I did this time.”

And for some, this will be the first hurricane season they experience.

“We’re new to Florida, and we’d like to know what we should be doing,” said Cape Coral residents Larry and Sharon Laflamme.

City leaders said they were encouraged by the turnout.

“I think individuals or the community got complacent, and last year’s storm was a wake-up call,” said mayor of Cape Coral, John Gunter.

The expo is all about making sure people know what supplies they need to last them days if an emergency arises.

And they want people to be mindful about what preps worked well during and after Ian and what could use improvement.

“Any time something happens, you put your plan to the test, right,” said Caroline Briones, Emergency Management Coordinator at the Cape Coral Fire Department. “You either have your plan and you execute it and you say, ‘this worked perfectly,’ or you have a plan and say, ‘Actually, I need to completely change this.'”

People at the event said they learned how to better protect their home from a power surge during a disaster.

Others said they now have generators after losing power for a significant time after Ian.

Some said they now plan to evacuate much earlier, before an order is issued.

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