Tuesday, October 5, 2004 (Jacksonville, FL) - Today Council President Elaine Brown announced the establishment of a special committee to evaluate Jacksonville's hurricane and emergency preparedness process before, during and after such serious events. With recent storms and hurricanes hitting Florida back-to-back, Council President Brown and PHSU Committee Chair Art Shad felt it was important to reflect on how well the city handles issues such as power outages, storm debris pick-up, evacuation shelters, storm damage assistance and comfort stations.
Brown has Councilman Shad heading up the Special Committee on Tackling the Storm as chair, along with Council members Arthur Graham, as vice chair; Gwen Yates; Suzanne Jenkins; Kevin Hyde; Glorious Johnson and Michael Corrigan. Brown said, 'I know that the diligence and leadership of these Council members will foster the type of planning and foresight needed to secure the best possible scenario for our City and its agencies to respond in the face of future storm-related emergency situations.'
Brown added, 'The Council members felt that it was crucial to isolate this issue, review what just happened and reflect on how to expand on the current plan to improve internal and external communications, procedures and results. This special committee plans to review our emergency preparedness plan so that the City Council, the City's administration and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) can more effectively serve the needs of our constituents, so that everyone is informed and prepared as best as possible.
Brown and Shad also wanted to include an opportunity for citizens to share their stories, offer solutions and give input to those involved in carrying out emergency operations. Shad stated, 'It is paramount that we make sure we are doing our very best to secure the safety of those who live in or evacuate to this area. The City Council members have received a lot of feedback – both positive and negative – on our City's reaction to emergency preparedness. Due to the importance of this issue, we as a Council wanted to have a venue for public input and to debrief the different departments and agencies to determine what we did well and what we can improve upon moving forward.'
Shad added, 'We have been very lucky that we have not faced the type of devastation most of Florida was subjected to over this past month. However, we have dealt with severe weather conditions that have impacted how and what we do in the future. I envision that when this committee finishes, it will have specific recommendations to give certain agencies.'