10 years later, could we take another Hurricane Charley?

Ruskin, Florida -- Ten years after Hurricane Charley roared through our part of Florida, have we learned anything?

What are we doing differently today that could make what we see in this Hurricane Charley destruction photo gallery less painful or speed up recovery time?

And is there anything that could have saved the eight people killed by Hurricane Charley in Florida?

Experts have admitted they made mistakes ten years ago when it comes to keeping your family safe.

I went to those experts to ask about some of the crucial lessons they've learned and changes they've made since then.

"That's what Charley taught us -- to be ready for whatever comes our way," Preston Cook told me.

Cook is now the head of Hillsborough County Emergency Management, but he was working in Orlando when powerful category 4 Hurricane Charley swirled toward Florida.

He was a hundred miles from the Gulf. He thought he -- and the thousands of people evacuating toward him -- were safe.

But Charley's path bent inland in the final hours. It put all of them in unexpected danger.

The lesson learned? Be ready for anything.

"It said, okay, the storm is not projected to come towards you. At the last moment, it did," Cook said.

"What are you gonna do now? You know, the storm can change very quickly and the plans that you have in place -- you need to be able to adapt."

Charley's curve caught a lot of people off guard.

SEE ALSO:Charley survivors remember hardship

A review by the National Weather Service found they needed to fix 18 things about their response after that Charley confusion.

Some of the changes:

- Better communication with other meteorologists, like our 10 Weather team.

- More updates as a storm comes ashore.

- Added equipment on hurricane hunter planes.

The National Weather Service's Ruskin office has put together a look back at the Hurricane Charley 10-year anniversary.

Charley was just one of three hurricanes to roar through the same spot in eastern Polk County in 2004, including communities like Lake Wales and Frostproof.

But despite the fact that the area is rural -- it's out in the country -- some of the biggest lessons learned there were about technology.

"They needed to know, where were we going to have debris pickups, they needed to know, what type of responses were we going to have and when were we going to come through?" Cook said.

So, this hurricane season, expect text alerts, slick websites, and smartphone apps to get information out to you.

And responders will watch social media to see, fast, where they're needed most.

It's a coordinated, high-tech response that grew out of lessons learned from Charley.

Be sure to watch 10 News on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. We'll take you to Punta Gorda, a city halfway obliterated by Charley. What's it like today? See for yourself tonight at 5.


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