Emergency personnel say “better to prepare in advance then be caught off guard” with Tropical Storm Laura

Panama City

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County is no stranger to hurricanes and with that we know — it is better to be prepared in advance then caught off guard.

Stores like Home Depot have stocked up on items you may need to prepare for the storm and the county ensures they are ready this time around and so are the residents.

The strength of Hurricane Michael in 2018 caught many panhandle residents off guard, but now, some residents like Kristi Yanchis say they are more equipped to handle future storms.

“After going through Michael there’s a lot of things that come to mind,” said Yanchis. “Definitely stocking up on water and non perishable food. Also propane another way to cook.”

As the tropical storm Laura approaches, Emergency Management Division Chief, Frankie Lumm, says everyone is more prepared this time around.”

<frankie lumm – emergency management division chief in bay county>

“I actually feel very good about the people in bay county being more prepared than anyone in Florida,” said Lumm. “We’ve been through this and they know what to do but don’t get complacent.”

The challenge we face this year will be COVID-19. Lumm says shelters will be different and adding a mask and hand sanitizer to your kits is essential.

Bay District Schools and The Red Cross are working on plans to open shelter, but they will look different.

“We’re spreading people out, we’re going to be more in a classroom environment,” said Lumm. “Normally we are more in the gymnasium but we will be using classrooms so we are able to spread people out.”

Lumm says to start getting those kits ready now and stores like home depot have everything you need to prepare.

Assistant Manager, Val Bates, says they have a section specifically for hurricane prep in their store, so residents can come in and stock up on the basics. 

“Make sure you do have those supplies should you lose power, make sure you have a flashlight, make sure you have plenty of portable water  and general supplies to keep your house under wraps,” said Bates.

Bates says they have not seen a major rush of people coming in just yet, but they are ready.

He says a major challenge the store will face in this aspect will be controlling the crowds and continuing to social distance as the masses make their way in. 

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