Gulf County Emergency Management conducts hurricane tabletop exercise

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 09:14 AM.

Andrew. Opal. Frances. Charley. Irene. Jeanne.

For many Floridians, these aren’t just names, these are memories. Each year, the Atlantic hurricane season sees an average of 9-10 tropical storms with at least 2-3 becoming major hurricanes.

Many times, these storms leave in their wake millions of dollars in damage, broken lives, and sometimes even death. While various preparations can be made, there is no form of prevention. The only “defense” is planning, mitigation and response. After the storm has passed, and its havoc has been wreaked, emergency workers are the first on-scene to help pick up the pieces and restore citizens to their normal routines.

While much of what emergency responders accomplish during the response phase is similar to their usual work, hurricanes and tropical storms bring with them a slew of challenges that can be difficult to predict and handle.

“Even if we get hit by only one storm, that’s still a ‘bad season’,” says Emergency Management Director Marshall Nelson. “We don’t worry so much about what the seasonal forecast says - we just plan to be prepared no matter what.”

With the next season looming on the horizon, Gulf County Emergency Management hosted a hurricane tabletop exercise at the Gulf County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), to give their staff and other agencies the chance to plan and prepare for the future. The exercise was held on Jan. 23 and used a scenario that simulates a hurricane impacting Gulf County. Multi-agency responders were presented with challenging informational injects throughout the exercise to give them a feel for how demanding and overwhelming an event like this can be, as they make on-the-spot decisions that will affect their county.

Nelson says that this exercise couldn’t come at a better time.

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