JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- Hurricane season officially started June 1st. And Jacksonville is preparing for what could be a busy next few months.
Things looked serious at Cecil Field Wednesday. Helicopters were landing and first responders set up staging areas. It was only a drill, but crews are working like it was the real deal.
Hundreds of River City responders sprung into action. A category three hurricane hit Jacksonville head on and rescue crews were putting their response to the test.
"We are testing the processes and procedures and making sure it all works according to plan," said EOC Commander Chief Marty Senterfitt.
Hurricane experts at Colorado State University are predicting 13 named storms this season and five hurricanes. So it's important for the River City to be ready. In the case of head-on hurricane blow, Cecil Field will be used for response.
"Because of the fact that we have so many assets coming in needing to stage them in regular mode at that point in time this gives us that staging area," said JFRD Captain William Estep.
This year, Jacksonville got a jump start. Tropical Storm Beryl struck before the season even started. City leaders have said while the city's response was good, there is room to improve.
We asked Chief Senterfitt what the city can do better going forward.
"Practice, practice, practice," he said. "We can't ever assume that just because its May that a storm's not coming. We're quite ready in June, July, August but I think what that storm showed us is even in the later parts of May you can have one jump up on you pretty quick."
Rescue crews have never had to activate Cecil Field. That's because Jacksonville hasn't been hit head on since Hurricane Dora in 1964.
The five day hurricane drill is possible through a $140,000 grant from Homeland Security.