When Frances pummelled the county over the Labor Day weekend, many people complained that radio and television stations seemed to be ignoring Citrus. Power outages knocked local radio and TV outlets off the air, and the stations in Tampa and St. Petersburg seemed to have their attention focused on areas closer to their home bases.
As a result, many important Citrus news notices - issued at critical points during Frances' onslaught - went unnoticed for some time by Tampa Bay radio and television stations.
In the wake of Frances, local radio and television stations pledged to make improvements. Chief among them was to buy generators to keep their stations on the air in case the electricity went out. The county also pledged to find ways to get important information out right away.
On Sunday, as Jeanne bore down on Citrus, the communication situation seemed to improve a great deal. Local radio such as WXCV-FM 95.3 (Citrus 95) and local TV station WYKE-Ch. 49 were able to keep broadcasting. WYKE can be found as Channel 16 on cable systems.
"We've got two generators," said Tom Franklin, general manager of WYKE, the local cable access channel funded by the Key Training Center.
Although Franklin said his station hadn't lost power, the backup generators would ensure that the live updates he started Saturday and continued through Sunday would stay on the air.
WYKE used a live telephone connection to interview Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, County Commission Chairman Josh Wooten and sheriff's Capt. Joe Eckstein, all principal figures at the county's Emergency Operations Center in Lecanto, where disaster preparedness procedures are developed. Often, WYKE was able to talk with the EOC within minutes of a briefing.
When Franklin went on the air, his broadcasts were simulcast on WLMS-FM 88.3, a small religious station to which county officials referred people for local storm information.
Franklin described his show as "not a news program, but an emergency information service provided by the only local television station."
He said plans were to put a camera crew in the center to interview disaster preparedness leaders on camera, but time ran out.
"This thing (Jeanne) just caught us short," he said.
Citrus 95 simulcasted the Bay News 9 broadcasts and also aired interviews and statements from key officials, such as representatives for an electric utility and county spokeswoman Jessica Sanderson.
Access to the major Tampa Bay television stations was also improved Saturday and Sunday, according to Sanderson.
"Things were just wonderful this time around, as compared to Frances," she said. "We were able to get information on the air very quickly."
The county used a media alert system it discovered as Frances was winding down, Sanderson said. It is an e-mail server that is constantly monitored by the major television stations.
When the decision was made to cancel school today, Sanderson sent the message on the media alert system, and she said it was on television screen and newspaper Web sites within minutes.
"They know where Citrus is this time around," she said.