PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Punta Gorda Fire Chief Ray Briggs is also the city's emergency manager. Ten years after Charley, Chief Briggs is looking ahead to make sure everyone is prepared for the next storm.
"My kids have fun with that when folks start talking about Hurricane Charley. They say my dad was in jail in Hurricane Charley," Chief Briggs recalled.
What sounds like a good joke now, was not so funny at the time. Chief Ray Briggs was in charge of training for the city's fire department in 2004 when Charley hit. He was the liaison between the county and city during the storm, stationed at Charlotte's Emergency Operations Center, located at the Sheriff's Office back then.
When the storm grew to a category four, the EOC was evacuated for a stronger structure, the jail.
After the storm passed, his crews immediately went to work.
"One of the things we used in Charley... it's called a first-in team. What we've done is we've taken all the departments in the city, law enforcement, fire, utility, city-- all of those folks and we've pre-staged some equipment throughout the city," said Briggs.
But before they could get those pre-positioned crews on the road, they had to clear some paths.
"A fire truck is only as good as the path it can get down," explained Briggs.
Crews were sent to check on the hardest hit areas and to people who didn't evacuate, who called for help during the storm when it was too dangerous to get to them. First responders are pulled off the road for their own safety if the conditions during a storm become too dangerous.
Despite those panicked calls and the massive amount of damage, Chief Briggs said the outcome could have been a lot worse.
"As a community when you look at the number of fatalities directly related to the storm, you know very low," he said. "I know we talk about it and I talk about surge but I think that low number had everything to do with surge. Water is what scares me."
Because every storm is different, Chief Briggs says next time, his town may not be so lucky.
"I think there's always this feeling of we see images of broken bridges and overturned homes and cars and those and it's always somewhere else... but that somewhere else is here and it very well could be here again. There's no limit that you can only have one." he told us.
Chief Briggs recommends that everyone get a weather radio, stock up on batteries and water, and put together an action plan. He said he'll do his job to to keep everyone updated on whatever storm heads our way, but it's up to you to take that information and make a smart decision.