Barrier island residents might get an evacuation order for a storm on a sunny day, perhaps three or four days before the storm is projected to make landfall.
Emergency officials advised residents to heed their warnings June 19, at the disaster preparedness seminar presented by the town and the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce.
Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, was the keynote speaker at the event.
“If you wait, you’re gonna get stuck on the mainland behind everyone else who’s going somewhere else,” he said.
Koon explained the difference between a state of emergency and a disaster declaration: A state of emergency, which a governor can declare, merely expedites various governmental processes but does not include extra money.
A federally declared disaster area brings in both individual and public assistance for rebuilding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies.
Koon told the audience that some forecasting measures are constantly improving. The cone, which predicts where a storm will go, keeps getting smaller, meaning its accuracy is improving, however, prediction models about whether a storm will strengthen or diminish have not improved significantly.
Typically, officials prepare for a storm that’s one level higher than forecasts predict out of precaution.
“The fact is, we know that the forecast for intensity is not where we would like it to be one day,” Koon said.
Other speakers included Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Don Hermey, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane, Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi, Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming and Longboat Key Public Works Director Juan Florensa.
For more information, pick up a June 26 copy of the Longboat Observer.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].