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Title:Has Florida Learned from Killer Storms?

To engineers and disaster experts who have analyzed the data and helped communities recover from the damage, there was nothing surprising about the storm that made landfall near Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 22.

What alarms them is that they know how to mitigate property damage with resilient construction and avoid deaths - especially those related to storm surge and inland flooding - but Floridians aren’t listening to the warnings.

“We’re seeing an overall decline in direct fatalities with a corresponding increase in indirect fatalities,” said Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center at the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Palm Beach on May 10.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has not completed its after-action report on Hurricane Ian because recovery is still underway, and it canceled its annual statewide training exercise for emergency responders because “we literally just practiced in real life,” said Alecia Collins, spokesperson for the agency.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says his community can’t wait for the state to assemble recommendations and train for the next disaster. His city is conducting an evacuation tabletop exercise on June 6 “to evaluate our readiness and capacity to carry out a citywide evacuation in the face (of) an approaching hurricane.

Communication failures and misdirected focus from emergency officials can be deadly, Rhome said in his presentation to the conference.

“You’ve got to stop focusing on the wrong thing,” he said. “Storm surge is historically the biggest killer.”

He said warnings from local officials and the media too often focus on the cone of the hurricane’s potential impact and the Saffir-Simpson scale that produces the 1 to 5 rating based on sustained wind speed. He said the scale does not take into account storm surge, rainfall flooding and tornadoes, all hazards that proved deadly last year.

The message from forecasters was...

Organization:Climate Crocks
Date Added:6/4/2023 6:38:29 AM