I was privileged today to participate in a Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Quarterly Meeting. There were around 30 people in attendance: emergency managers or their representatives from the County as well as from several municipalities. The main topic was hurricane preparedness and response. It was very gratifying to me to see all the different jurisdictions communicating with one another at the beginning of the hurricane season. Just as FEMA or the Florida Division of Emergency Management (as good as it is) can’t possibly be expected to solve all the response and recovery problems on the local level, neither can the County do it all on its own. The municipalities will have a seat at the table at the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during a hurricane activation which will help the “team” work through the next hurricane disaster together.
I am also pleased to hear of the involvement of the private sector. No one wants to repeat the Hurricane Wilma experience where thousands of able-bodied people were lined up within 24 hours to get free water and ice. And this was when many supermarkets were open. In cases like that, the government should not be competing with the private sector. It is my understanding that many private retailers in South Florida have made tremendous strides in getting more prepared for the next hurricane. For example, Publix stores either have backup generators or have the capability to quickly connect to a generator. And Publix has several trucks in Lakeland that are capable of quickly bringing generators to the needy stores. I commend the County for agressively engaging the private sector in the preparedness and response activities. Having the private sector represented at the County EOC should make recovery quicker.