Road to Readiness…

The Governor’s Hurricane Conference (Conference) was established in order to provide a vehicle to present lessons learned and other important information about hurricanes to public and private officials, especially local emergency management professionals and those involved in preparedness, planning, response and recovery at all levels of government, industry and private interests.

The primary target audience was and continues to be the first-line responders to a hurricane or other tropical weather event.  In addition, the Conference also serves as a forum for state and local emergency management officials to exchange ideas and to discuss and recommend new policies to improve emergency management in the State of Florida.

Hermine… Irma… Matthew… and now Michael – these hurricanes have left an imprint
as indelible as Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne and Wilma did in the previous decade. As
those 2004 – 2005 storms redefined how Florida looked at readiness, so too have these
more recent storms added their contribution to the continuing challenge to be ready and
resilient. Our theme for this 33rd edition of the Governor’s Hurricane Conference® – Road
to Readiness – recognizes this challenge and will present plausible paths to address the
ever-evolving readiness posture of Florida’s vulnerable communities.
What are the factors and issues we must consider along this road? First, that stronger
storms keep getting stronger, the science seems clear on this. Secondly, storms are also
getting wetter – as hurricanes Matthew, Harvey, and Florence showed us. Thirdly, the
US Coastline’s population and infrastructure continues to rise rapidly, as seen by the
number of people living from Texas to Maine increasing from 10 million to almost 50
million in 50 years. And in spite of more accurate and better forecasting tools and
technology, evacuation is still a complicated art where messaging plays a key role. Risk
sheltering operations, post-impact mass care and the players involved have changed,
and the lack of safe, affordable housing lengthens the delay for disaster survivors to return
to “normalcy.” The ability to communicate in a technically savvy world following a
hurricane has never been more taxing, and we can no longer rely on traditional means
for situational awareness. Providing timely response resources to communities needing
them must be examined. Continuing to rely on insurance and federal grants to rebuild
shattered economies and housing stocks fails to provide the necessary incentive to
involve the whole community in strengthening Florida’s resiliency to future events. And,
of course, there’s always the debris.
All this points to the continuing need to train and educate Florida’s emergency
management community and this is the goal the Governor’s Hurricane Conference®
continues to be committed to. This year our partners and sponsoring organizations have
mapped out more than 40 training sessions, 65 workshops, various seminars, and a
dynamic general session to share lessons learned and ways to improve our readiness.
We also offer the chance to network with your peers and others to enhance this learning
experience. Come join us this year and help build the road to readiness for Florida and
the nation.