Palm Beach County prepares to fight hurricane amnesia, a common ideology held by the county’s officials and emergency management.
The Emergency Operations Center in Palm Beach County held its annual hurricane briefing for legislative officials and media last week. Emergency management strongly advised officials to inform their communities to have a plan and kit for any situation.
“With the turnover of population and the passage of time, people have forgotten significant information of hurricane preparedness,” said Bill Johnson, the director for county’s division of emergency management.
It’s been nine years since Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida, so Johnson said he is worried that people could have forgotten what it is to live through a hurricane.
Johnson said that 90 percent of individuals surveyed in the state of Florida do not know if they live in an evacuation zone.
“I think that is really critical information,” he said. “Because what’s the most dangerous element of a hurricane is not the wind it is actually storm surge.”
Yet, nowadays compared to 2005, communication is faster.
Smartphone apps are an example of real time updates of information that many organizations in Miami-Dade and Broward County have started to create in order to inform the public.
Palm Beach County is also part of this trend with its PBC Dart app.
The app tells people locations of the nearest evacuation zones and shelters.
Johnson said this is very important because they don’t want people driving to Orlando escaping a storm.
“The highway infrastructure north from here is not capable of handling the traffic,” he said. The last thing we want to see is people stuck on a highway in the middle of a storm.”
The app will also let individuals and businesses report in real time any damaged areas to the Palm Beach Emergency Operations Center, that way they will be able to locate any areas needing attendion during and after a storm.