NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - When Jim Cantore shows up in your town, it usually means severe weather is soon to follow - but not always.
Carolina Beach Mayor Joe Benson has proposed bringing Cantore, one of the Weather Channel’s most recognizable faces, in for a hurricane intensity and preparation public workshop in April. It would be held at the Carolina Beach Courtyard by Marriott or Hampton Inn.
“Jim Cantore would be the hook that would drive more attention and bring more people," said Benson. "It’s more than just his autograph. People would come see and listen to Jim and walk away with a better understanding of hurricane forecasting, track, and the landfall impacts.”
Benson said reinforcing hurricane preparedness is essential not only to locals on Pleasure Island, but also for tourists who flock to the beaches.
While it would be cool to have Cantore visit the area sans storm, not everyone is on board with the potential $13,500 price tag to cover his speaking fee and travel costs. In an email to gauge interest in Cantore’s possible visit, Benson mentioned maybe using a cost-sharing arrangement of $2,500-3,000 per town with the county helping as well.
The cost for Cantore would include an approximately $10,000 speaking fee, first-class airfare, hotel, and other travel costs, said Benson.
“No doubt Mr. Cantore is a talented spokesman for the Weather Channel and we all listen to him during a storm for the updates,” Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky said in an email. “I personally would prefer to invest differently in protection for our citizens.”
Bloszinsky wants community members to take cues from local leadership in regards to risk and evacuations, adding the mayor pro-tem and emergency manager do mulitple hurricane preparedness courses each year.
"We focus first on protecting life and if people evacuate we can focus on protecting property," Bloszinsky explained. "I am not sure how Mr. Cantore can help us in the areas of fire-fighting, life-saving, power line management and infrastructure protection."
Benson is just bouncing the idea off other Carolina Beach, Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach and New Hanover County leaders at this point and nothing about a Cantore visit is listed on the next Carolina Beach Town Council meeting agenda.
The Carolina Beach mayor said he is waiting to hear back from other local leaders, and the Cantore-headlined event is in the exploratory phase.
“The track of the hurricanes, the intensity of the hurricanes, the impacts when a hurricane makes landfall, that is a very complicated science, but a lot of people could get, from a guy like Jim Cantore, could gain a much greater appreciation and understanding," said Benson.
In mid-October, Benson posted a photo of Cantore and him in Atlanta hinting a possible Cantore visit. Benson said he and Cantore have been friends for a number of years.
Benson’s email listed the purpose of a Cantore visit as a means of enhancing the public’s awareness on storm preparation, forecasting and tracking storms, evacuations and life after a storm. The appearance would include Cantore’s presentation as well as interactive displays and a question and answer period.
State and county emergency officials, and representatives from the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office would join Cantore for the presentation.