emergency management

Kate Stein / WLRN

The newspaper headline for August 28, 2019, reads: “Category 5 Hurricane Expected to Hit Homestead, South Miami in Three Days.”

Markus Spiske / Flickr/Creative Commons

People living in Palm Beach County have a new way to reach 911 in an emergency: by text message.

Anyone in the county with a cell phone can send a text to 911 describing their emergency. The message will immediately begin a text conversation with an operator - just like a call.

“We will be able to text back and determine what the emergency is and get you the appropriate resources - police, fire, paramedics,” said Natalie Heneks, communications supervisor at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Jonathan Schilling / Creative Commons

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the federal government signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Carnival Corporation to help house federal aid workers and first responders on the company's Fascination cruise ship in the United States Virgin Islands.

C-Span

If you judge Wes Maul by his online résumé, his tenure at the state Division of Emergency Management has seen the full spectrum of natural and human disasters: hurricanes, mass shootings, public health emergencies. Tropical storms and infrastructure failure. Floods, mass migration, protests.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Monroe County has an offer for those who want to return home right away after a hurricane: Take a 32-hour training course and get a special pass that will get you back in the first days after a storm, before the general public.

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