Hurricane Expo helps Hillsborough prepare

- How prepared to face a hurricane is your family?

The Atlantic hurricane season officially started this week, and over the weekend, experts were on hand to help residents learn what they need to be ready for a storm. 

People packed the Hillsborough Hurricane Expo at the Westshore Mall, many of whom haven't lived in the Bay Area long enough to have been through a hurricane. But they know everyone should have a plan before a storm rolls in – and the plan should be second nature to Florida residents.

That's why Katie Rogers said she came to the expo, looking to find out more about storm preparedness. After moving from Indiana to Hillsborough County she knew she needed a plan.

“It's a little nerve-wracking, but I'm learning as much as I can," Rogers told FOX 13 News. “It is definitely helping just knowing what I need to do and where I need to go and setting up a plan for my family is the most important thing.”

At the 2017 Hillsborough Hurricane Expo, experts were on hand to help guide people on what they should do.

“When hurricanes come it could be the worse times that we can imagine. You could save your life, your family's life, and the ones you love if you are as prepared as you can be,” Director of Hillsborough Co. Emergency Management Preston Cook said.

Being prepared starts with a hurricane kit - a bag filled with items like a first aid kit, duct tape, flashlights and everyday essentials.

“You need to think about those things as well as medical supplies for your family like a pair of glasses and prescriptions you may need,” Cook added.

And officials want people to take any sort of warning seriously.

“When we put an evacuation order in we want people to heed that for their own safety so they can get out. We can always replace a house, we can replace things. We can't always replace people," Hillsborough Co. Fire Rescue spokesperson Corey Dierdorff said.  “With the lack of direct hits on the county, people tend to get complacent so this is something to remind them that these threats are very real. They are very real to the state of Florida.”

One of the most important things to know before a storm hits is your evacuation zone, which is different than your property’s flood zone designation. This year FEMA rezoned several evacuation maps.

In Hillsborough County, there are now an additional 150,000 people in evacuation zones who previously were not.

For information from Hillsborough County on the new evacuation zones, making a family plan, and emergency preparedness, visit

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