Indian River County Emergency Services Director John King And Emergency Services Coordinator Etta LoPresti
In introducing Indian River County Emergency Services (IRCES) Coordinator Etta LoPresti, who reported on the 2015 hurricane season at the June 2, 2015 Indian River County Commissioner’s meeting, Director John King said that Ms. LoPresti has been with IRCES “much of her adult life” and that she is “one of the finest emergency management coordinators in the state and is recognized throughout the state as that.”
Following her presentation and final remarks by Director King, IRC Administrator Joe Baird said that “John, (King) is tremendous during the hurricane season… and we are in the best hands of anyone in the US when it comes to hurricanes.
The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from Monday June 1 to Monday November 30.
Ms. LoPresti reported that the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released it’s outlook of a “below-normal season.” NOAA is a Federal agency focused on the conditions of the oceans and atmosphere.
Essentially, NOAA is predicting between six and eleven named storms, three to six hurricanes and 0 to 2 major hurricanes.
Florida has been fortunate to have had nine consecutive seasons without a hurricane strike, which is the longest stretch on record since 1851.
But even though NOAA has released a below-normal season, “we can still get a hurricane that would have a catastrophic effect on our community. We need to prepare for this no matter what the predictions,” said Ms. LoPresti.
In particular, there are 1 million new residents in Florida since the last hurricane in 2005 who have not experienced such a disaster. Even those who did may have developed a level of complacency and forgotten how serious one can be.
In effort to prepare for just this, IRCES is increasing its social media outreach, upgrading public outreach and notification, exploring a web application and seeking “emergency management” accreditation; consisting of 64 standards. Only nine counties and one city in Florida have received this accreditation.
Additionally, IRCRES is participating in state-wide exercise and training programs for hurricanes, weather analysis, radiologic, tsunami and cyber security planning and Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery programs.
Commissioner Peter O’Bryan emphasized that the County needs to make a strong message to get individuals to prepare for themselves during the first 72 hours and not rely on the government for materials such as water, batteries and ice. “This,” he indicated. “is one of the biggest challenges…we need to make sure people are prepared.
County Administrator Joe Baird indicated that the State of Emergency for Hurricane Wilma included a ban on alcohol sales, there were chuckles in the Chamber when one Commissioner said that’s why we need to “make sure we are prepared.” Another said “I understand why we don’t want hurricanes.”