With Hurricane Irma now hundreds of miles away, most Floridians are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Yes, there was tremendous wind damage in South Florida and the Keys, and Downtown Jacksonville suffered serious flooding but it could have been much worse. We’ve all checked on our neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers. The clean-up has begun and, for millions of people, the wait to have power restored continues. That’s the reality for many of us. But there is a completely different reality for hundreds of unsung heroes across the State.
They are the men and women of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT), and our 67 County EM Managers and their local teams. These are the professionals whose valiant mission is to keep the rest of us informed, prepared, sheltered, safe, and help recover after a disaster. They are the brave ones who in the face of an impending weather event, unforeseen disaster, or man-made incident leave their homes and families and come running to man Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), stationing areas, shelters, and onsite response. Soldiers charge into gunfire, Firefighters rush into burning buildings, and Emergency Managers hold the fort while the rest of us evacuate or shelter in place.
While FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gets lots of news coverage, it is predominantly just a funding source that supports the decisions, requests, and direction of State and local Emergency Management professionals. Within a few days, the media will move on to other stories in the news. But Florida’s emergency management heroes will be working round the clock helping Floridians recover from Irma for years to come. We salute their perseverance and recognize that Florida’s EM professionals have pioneered many of the best practices that are now standard operating procedures for the Emergency Management industry here in the U.S. and around the world. Three Mile Island was the canary in the coalmine that launched Emergency Management, California earthquakes and Rocky Mountain wildfires were important strides forward, but ever since Hurricane Andrew, Florida’s EM community has been leading the way in inter-agency coordination, state-wide response and recovery operations, and public awareness and communication about emergency preparedness.
We are proud at IDEAS to have helped FDEM inform, prepare, teach, and train Floridians of all ages about hazardous weather events, business loss mitigation, hurricane preparedness, and other important types of safety awareness. As we all stand tall and help each other during the process of recovering from Hurricane Irma, please remember your unsung heroes of our great State’s Emergency Management community.
Preparedness. Response. Recovery. Mitigation.
Thank you Florida’s Emergency Management professionals!