emergency management

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

Before Sept. 10, the last Category 4 storm to cross the Florida Keys was Donna in 1960 — 57 years ago.

"A community loses its institutional knowledge over that time," said Martin Senterfitt, Monroe County director of emergency management. "And we start replacing it with knowledge of Category 1s and tropical storms and we start forgetting just how bad a storm can be."

Senterfitt, and everybody else in the Keys, now has direct experience of how a major hurricane can impact the low-lying island chain. Irma destroyed hundreds of homes and caused major damage to thousands more.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Hurricane Irma was over and the Monday after the storm all Leola Maedell wanted to do was go home.

The elderly Little River resident had been at the red metal picnic table outside Miami Edison Senior High School for four hours, waiting on the buses that would take her from the shelter back to her neighborhood.

Two weeks after Hurricane Irma’s horrific pounding, and with two months left in the Atlantic Hurricane season, Florida’s emergency management chief is heading out the door.

Tom Urban/News Service of Florida

As homebound evacuees clog interstates, Gov. Rick Scott says food, water and fuel are also heading to South Florida.

Scott told reporters Tuesday afternoon at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee that the biggest push underway is to get the power on.

 

“I know we have over 30,000 linemen here and people that’ll clean up debris for them, along with the people that already work at our companies," Scott said.

The state also needs the ports fully operational in order to deliver fuel. 

Gina Jordan/WLRN

Hundreds of people are housed in a large room with computer monitors and giant TV screens lining the walls overhead. Lots of people are on computers, and even more are walking around wearing navy emergency response team shirts. It’s a calm but busy Friday afternoon at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The center in Tallahassee is at its highest activation: Level 1

Hurricane Harvey is the first test of the Trump administration's response to a natural disaster. And much of that responsibility falls on the shoulder of the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, William "Brock" Long.

Long was confirmed as FEMA administrator by the Senate in June, just a few months ago, but he is not exactly a stranger to the agency. He was a regional manager there during the George W. Bush administration, and he went on to serve as Alabama's emergency management director.

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Jeff Huffman, meteorologist at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network