This is National Hurricane Preparedness Week and today’s topic is storm surge. Historically, more people have died in a hurricane as a result of the storm surge than from any other hurricane hazard. The first step in anyone’s hurricane plan is to find out if you live in one of the hurricane evacuation zones. South Florida residents can find this out by downloading our Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide at http://www.local10.com/download/2011/0324/27311836.pdf.
Last Tuesday, I participated in a Hurricane Preparedness meeting on Miami Beach along with Miami Beach Emergency Manager, George Navarro, and Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Director, Curt Sommerhoff. The meeting had around 100 Miami Beach hotel owners and/or general managers in attendance, and had excellent presentations from the Tourism Director of the City of Miami Beach, Michael Aller, the President and CEO of the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, Wendy Kallergis, the President & CEO of the Great Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bill Talbert, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the Miami Weather Forecast Office, Rob Molleda, the Regional Director of Communications & Marketing for the South Florida region of the American Red Cross, Cynthia Gutierrez-White, and others.
- Miami Beach Hurricane Preparedness Meeting panel
Miami Beach and other South Florida coastal areas as well as the Florida Keys are extremely vulnerable to storm surge. I left this meeting feeling that Miami Beach is setting a good example for other coastal municipalities in having a good hurricane preparedness plan. The representatives from the various hotels on Miami Beach understand their vulnerability to storm surge and understand that they are in a hurricane evacuation zone. Once an evacuation is called for, Michael Aller even goes to every individual hotel to make sure they heed the evacuation order. The attendees at this meeting understand that if the visitors to Miami Beach are treated well during a hurricane threat, they are more likely to return. Bill Talbert has a seat at the table in the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center during hurricanes and works very hard to make sure beach visitors can find nearby inland hotels to evacuate to outside of the storm surge zone.
I applaud the officials on Miami Beach for having created a good hurricane plan. But let’s remember that New Orleans had a plan before Hurricane Katrina. And Galveston had a plan before Hurricane Ike. We just need to make sure that our plans can be executed. That is good advice for all individuals living in hurricane vulnerable areas.