Palm Beach County braces for hurricane season
Though Palm Beach County has not experienced a strong hurricane in recent years, agencies in the Emergency Operations Center know Florida residents should not get comfortable. Earlier this month, over 100 people went through a statewide tabletop practice, according to WPBF, an ABC affiliate.
Residents participated in a simulation where they had to decide what they would do after two hurricanes swept across southern Florida. Emergency crews used tools they had operated with in the past and incorporated new ones like Facebook and Twitter to pinpoint damaged sites.
Bill Johnson, Palm Beach County's emergency management director, is not convinced. In the past, Johnson had a hard time convincing people to prepare well in advance and anticipate for possible evacuations. He wants Floridians to take the hurricane season seriously.
"I worry about that," Johnson told the Sun Sentinel. "Those are some of the things that keep me up at night."
Johnson hopes to convince lawmakers to keep Florida in mind when budgets and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are involved. Hurricane funding has consistently reduced in the last five years, according to WPTV, an NBC affiliate.
A few days after the hurricane drill, Johnson and other members of the Emergency Operations Center gave an hour-long presentation about preparing for hurricanes.
"If a hurricane or tropical storm is threatening this area you have to prepare for that hurricane even if you made it through the last one or haven't been through one in a long time," Dr. Rick Knabb of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) told the media at the presentation.
As of now, the NHC's technology can track a storm six to seven days in advance.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts that 2013 will have 13 to 20 named storms, seven to 11 of those turning out to be hurricanes. Communities that experience hurricanes should have a clear continuity of operations plan in case a storm hits. From there, consultants can help establish hot sites for businesses to ensure everyone's safety.