Polk County residents weary as another potentially-devastating storm moves toward Florida

As Hurricane Dorian makes its way toward Florida, memories of previous storms are resurfacing among those who lived through some of the Bay area's worst hurricanes. 

Many long-time residents of Polk County, specifically those in Lake Wales and Fort Meade, recall the three that slammed their communities in 2004: Charley, Francis, and Jeanne.

"They all are different, that's why they name them different I think, because it seems like they all have their own personality," said Tom Hall, the owner of a local produce shop in Lake Wales.

The aftermath from the 2004 hurricane season was devastating.

"Who would have ever thought that you could have three hurricanes in such a short period of time," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Valuable lessons were learned from that experience, and both residents and officials say they no longer take any chances when a storm is approaching.

"Charley was my first hurricane and I didn't take it serious," said Hall.

With Hurricane Dorian predicted to hit Florida's east coast, and then ultimately move inland, officials in Polk County are gearing up for rough conditions.

"We're prepared for a very bad day here," said Paul Womble, director of Polk's emergency management team. "We've brought all of our partners together, so we're ready to go."

EOC crews were in meetings all day Thursday and expect to do the same Friday and throughout the weekend as they discuss plans with other county divisions.

"We use an analogy: we don't play the instruments in the band, our job is to bring together all the appropriate instruments to make sure that they're in tune," said Womble.

Although there's nothing harmonious about hurricanes, both residents and officials who have dealt with their fair share of storms say preparation is critical.