According to Ray Bodrey the biggest mistake that the public makes during hurricane season is not being fully prepared.

“And when disasters happen, people panic,” said Bodrey, Gulf County’s Extension Agent.

Trying to mitigate some of that panic, Bodrey hosted a seminar last Friday at the Port St. Joe library called “Before & After the Storm.”

Using guidelines from the University of Florida, Bodrey went over step-by-step methods to lessen confusion as well as personal and property damage during a natural disaster event.

Awareness was Bodrey’s first step of preparing.

According to Bodrey, knowing hazards around your home and your home’s vulnerability to flooding and other damages is the first step in planning.

While personal considerations are important, Bodrey also emphasized the importance of knowing the considerations of your neighbors, pointing out that not only may a neighbor need assistance, but that a neighbor may have a special skill set that could help you out in a pinch.

Bodrey said that once the pre-planning is complete, the next step would to be to construct a disaster plan.

Those steps include knowing hurricane evacuation routes, maintaining a full tank of gas and using only one vehicle to evacuate, having predetermined meeting places for family members and maintaining contact with friends or family outside the area.

The most important step in disaster planning according to Bodrey, is the creation of a disaster supply kit.

That kit should include water and food, bedding, extra clothing, a first aid kit, toiletries, a NOAA weather radio, phone, paper money, tools, and items for pet care.

Bodrey said that people often overlook their pets when planning an evacuation, while adding that the extension office is available for livestock evacuation.

After the storm

As the county’s extension agent, Bodrey said that he receives many questions about the restoration of trees after a strong storm.

Bodrey stated that the key in tree restoration is knowing if a tree can be restored, or if the tree is a total loss.

According to Bodrey, if a tree is deemed salvageable there are three steps to follow.

The first would be to remove all hazards.

Bodrey noted that this step should be performed by those with experience and that no one should work with trees near power lines.

Bodrey also noted the rise in fraud after storms and urged the public to do research on whom to hire for tree removal.

The second step in tree recovery is to stake fallen trees when possible. This task should be performed on trees measuring 4 inches or less in diameter, and those that have been recently planted.

Exposed roots should also be protected and not allowed to dry out.

After standing a tree, the third step is cleaning the canopy of a damaged tree.

Cuts should be made cleanly and made back to the nearest lateral branch.

Bodrey said that he received the majority of his tree restoration questions pertaining to palm trees.

Noting that palm trees are slow to bounce back, he placed an emphasis on only removing palm fronds that have turned completely brown.