Palm Beach County emergency crews fear 'hurricane amnesia' among residents this storm season

It's been nine years since Hurricane Wilma

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - Nearly a decade has passed since the last hurricane made landfall in Florida and Palm Beach County Emergency Management crews now worry the time has created a dangerous amount of complacency.

Nine seasons ago, Hurricane Wilma whipped through Palm Beach County. The storm created gusts up to 120 miles per hour, ripped homes apart and left thousands without power for weeks.

"When the winds did start, I just thought that I could be blow away. My home could be blown away. Everything could be blown away," said Jean Hall who rode Wilma out from her Wellington home.

After experiencing the devastation of Wilma, Hall got prepared in all aspects of her life.
"It was scary. It was like where do I go? Where's my safe spot?" said Hall.

That was nearly a decade ago. In that time, the county worries some have forgotten about how devastating a hurricane can be to a resident.

"What I'm most concerned about, as I'm terming now, is hurricane amnesia," said Bill Johnson at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operation Center.

Johnson said it is a combination of a growing elderly population, young people getting older and an influx of new residents who have never experienced a hurricane.

If someone does not have a plan in place, Johnson said it hurts those who need help the most.

"There are only so many fire trucks. Only so many police vehicles and we're going to have to prioritize what we can respond to," said Johnson.

Palm Beach County EOC managers said everyone needs to know where they are going. If they stay, they need to have supplies.

Hall said it is better to be ready than learn the hard way.
"We should never let our guard down when it comes to hurricane season. I think we all should be fully prepared that it could be something catastrophic again," said Hall.