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State Leaders Urge Floridians To Take Advantage of Hurricane Tax Holiday This Weekend

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It’s been eight years since a hurricane last made landfall in Florida – the longest hurricane free stretch the state has seen since 1851. But Florida officials are warning citizens not to be apathetic.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is hoping luck will keep the state hurricane free for at least another year.

“Knock on wood, say a few prayers, we won’t have any landfalls in the great state of Florida,” Scott says.

And Scott could get his way.  A combination of cooler ocean temperatures and an expected El Nino system have hurricane forecasters predicting a less active than average hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting eight to 13 named storms and three to six hurricanes. An average season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes. But Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Brian Koon says that’s not a reason to skip getting prepared. With more exposed coastline than any other  state along the Gulf or Atlantic, Koon says Florida is a prime target for hurricanes.

“You know, it’s been a long time since Florida has had a land falling hurricane and that’s great,” Koon says. “However, the risk to Florida has not changed. The fact is that Florida gets about 40 percent of all the hurricanes that hit the United States and we’re going to get hurricanes in the future and it’s imperative that Floridians take hurricane season seriously and prepare accordingly.”

Officials worry the state’s hurricane free streak has lulled citizens into a false sense of security. After all, some elementary aged kids have never seen a hurricane, and many members of the state’s transplant population might have come after the last storm hit. So Scott says lawmakers created a hurricane sales tax holiday in an effort to encourage people to get prepared.

“So it gives everybody the opportunity to go out and get whatever you need. Buy the flashlights. Buy whatever you need to make sure that you’re prepared,” Scott says.

And here at the Askari Ace Hardware in Tallahassee, Manager Richard Saylor says the store’s  shelves are stocked so customers can take advantage of that tax deal.

“We’ve got some lanterns, some batteries, we’ve got some weather radios. We have things like candles and miniature first aid kits and we have tarps. We also have some things like water storage containers that you can put in your bathtub or put in your sink, fill them up with fresh water and in the event that there would be any issues with your water you’ve got gallons of drinking water there in your sink or your bath tub,”  Saylor says.

The state’s hurricane sales tax holiday runs through June 8, 2014.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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