Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Statewide effort helps Florida prepare for hurricanes

For decades, emergency managers pleaded for money to help Florida prepare for the big one. Repeatedly, their pleas failed to get support from the public and legislators.

It took nature to change all that.

Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that struck south Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, played a vital role in establishing a statewide emergency management trust fund which still provides the backbone for state and local emergency managers, said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate.

Many other states facing catastrophic disaster haven't been able to create such a pool of money, he said.

"This again was one of the key lessons from Hurricane Andrew: That the state would and did dedicate a funding source for emergency management for the state of Florida," Fugate said.

He called Florida "the envy of the nation for the amount of funding that's provided at the state and to the counties."

In 1993, the state created the Emergency Management, Preparedness and Assistance Trust Fund, which is funded by surcharges on insurance policies. Annually, it provides each of Florida's 67 counties with $7 million, according to Florida Association of Counties

Fugate said Florida deserves a lot of credit for the trust fund, established in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and the "Storm of the Century" the following year.

"Florida recognized that they need to fund emergency management," he said. "They needed to fund and build capacity and at the local level, particularly at the counties, which in Florida have the primary responsibility for carrying out emergency management."

Aside from creating a well of money, Florida also implemented a number of key recommendations that had been introduced in past legislative sessions but failed to gain critical support.

New legislation mandated that vulnerable facilities such as assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and hospitals have emergency evacuation plans approved by local officials.

The state began annual hurricane exercises and evacuation plans became more regional than county-specific.

Fugate, a seasoned Florida emergency manager, was serving as the emergency manager in Alachua County at the time Andrew ripped across south Florida. He recalled a slow evacuation.

"You literally had people stuck in traffic trying to leave Miami," he said. Shelters in the Gainesville area were opened for people who got stranded on the interstate because they ran out of gas.

After Andrew, shelter directors began to update designs. Emergency managers performed shelter surveys and realized they actually had shelter deficits and shelters that were inadequate.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804 or on Twitter a @Danny_Valentine.

Comments
Romano: You better hope Iím wrong about flood insurance

Romano: You better hope Iím wrong about flood insurance

Chances are, Iíll go down as the Boy Who Cried Flood.You might have noticed, Iíve been shouting about the imminent calamity of flood waters for quite a few years now. If I wasnít trying to frighten you into buying flood insurance, I was worrying you ...
Published: 06/22/18

Forecast: Muggy and hot with a chance of rain for Pride festivities

As the first weekend of summer swings in, it appears Tampa Bay should expect more heat, humidity and a chance of afternoon showers.Increased moisture in the Gulf of Mexico will result in scattered showers and isolated storms for coastal areas of Tamp...
Published: 06/22/18
Forecast: Hot and humid on summerís eve across Tampa Bay, with rain chances increasing

Forecast: Hot and humid on summerís eve across Tampa Bay, with rain chances increasing

Wednesday will be the longest day of the year, literally, as the day before the official start of summer yields the most amount of sunshine.Tampa Bay has already seen lots of sunshine, heat and humidity this year, and while that sunshine may be obscu...
Published: 06/20/18
Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Dry air will keep rain chances down Tuesday, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your afternoon plans.While showers will be at a minimum, the searing heat wonít be as high humidity and mostly sunny skies will push the heat index at ar nea...
Published: 06/19/18
Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Summer officially doesn’t start for another three days, but that won’t stop the searing temperatures and stifling humidity from making for a hot and sticky week across Tampa Bay. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s — and feel...
Published: 06/18/18
Forecast: Plenty of sunshine for Fatherís Day with small chances of isolated showers

Forecast: Plenty of sunshine for Fatherís Day with small chances of isolated showers

As the week comes to a close, Tampa Bay can expect some pretty standard summer-like days with highs near the 90s and afternoon showers popping up around the bay.Friday morning, Tampa Bay will rise with a lot of sunshine. Some scattered showers may dr...
Published: 06/15/18
Strong winds from Tropical Storm Bud hit Mexicoís Los Cabos

Strong winds from Tropical Storm Bud hit Mexicoís Los Cabos

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico ó Tropical Storm Bud lashed the southern end of Mexicoís Baja California Peninsula, home to the popular beach resorts of Los Cabos, with heavy winds Thursday as locals and tourists braced for an expected landfall later in th...
Published: 06/14/18
Check out this waterspout that formed in waters off Egmont Key

Check out this waterspout that formed in waters off Egmont Key

ST. PETERSBURG ó While the chance for an isolated shower or thunderstorm along the coast will remain just that this week, that doesnít preclude the possibility a strong cell could form in the morning.That exact scenario occurred Thursday morning as T...
Published: 06/14/18
Forecast: Early taste of summer for Fatherís Day across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Early taste of summer for Fatherís Day across Tampa Bay

Summer officially starts one week from today, but the familiar summertime pattern is firmly intact across Tampa Bay.That means warm days, high humidity and a small chance for an isolated popup afternoon storm. In other words, a great opportunity to h...
Published: 06/14/18
Forecast: Hot days, scattered showers are still the rule across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Hot days, scattered showers are still the rule across Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay should continue seeing summer-like days through the rest of the week with sunny, partly cloudy skies and a chance for pop-up afternoon showers.A light westerly flow off the Gulf of Mexico will help push coastal breezes further inland, carry...
Published: 06/13/18