Disaster kits, evacuation routes and a "gloom and doom outlook" for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season were among the topics discussed Monday during the fifth annual Hurricane Preparedness Expo.
More than 300 residents attended the seminar, sponsored by Horry County Emergency Management and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
"A hurricane is a unique situation; it is confusing for everybody because most people don't spend hours and hours planning for one," said Paul Whitten, Horry County's public safety director.
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"When you have the information and you are prepared, you have control. Hurricanes are not hopeless situations. We live in a beautiful place, but the reality is we are vulnerable to hurricanes."
Hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30, and earlier this month experts predicted it would bring 14 to 23 tropical storms, including eight to 14 hurricanes.
Three to seven of those hurricanes are expected to be of Category 3 or higher, meaning they'll have sustained winds of at least 111 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Attendees at Monday's expo learned about past storms that have struck the Grand Strand's coast and how to prepare their homes, pets and families for the next one.
"Hugo was a Category 4 storm in Charleston. "If you were here [on the Grand Strand] during Hugo, you survived a Category 1 storm."
Discussions about storms like 1989's Hurricane Hugo, which made landfall near Charleston, prompted Dave Gordon of Longs to attend Monday's expo. Gordon has lived in the area for three years and never experienced a tropical storm.
"I don't know what to expect," Gordon said. "Being prepared in advance is the big thing in knowing what to do and not waiting to the last minute."
Getting prepared now before a storm threatens is key because weather experts predict a busy season with numerous storms forming in the Atlantic, said Steve Pfaff, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.
"We want to prepare for any hurricane season like it's the worse season.
"We have a higher chance of impact when there are more storms out there, but all it takes is one," Pfaff said. "Hurricane awareness is such an important thing. When we have a hurricane season that's projected to be as active as it is, it further highlights the risks that we face and the types of hazards we can face from hurricanes."
Rich Dressler of Surfside Beach attended his third expo on Monday because "there are always new things to learn and new ideas.
"Each year it's different and there's always new information out there to learn," Dressler said.
"I want to be as prepared as possible."