St. Johns county emergency management personnel getting together for their annual disaster preparedness exercise today at the emergency operations center and with the busiest part of hurricane season just around the corner they’re stressing knowing roles and communication.
"We're always preparing, the storms are always there. There's always a potential," says Lt. Jeremy Robshaw with St. Johns County Fire/Rescue.
Robshaw says exercises like these allow you to meet people you'll be working with in a disaster situation and rehash each agency’s role. Attendees were able to attend breakout sessions on things like the county's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP), gathering information and creating situation reports, resource ordering, and handling funding from FEMA.
Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane expert at Colorado State University and one of the event's keynote speakers, said according to models Florida has a 71% chance of seeing a category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane this year. But St. Johns EOC director Ray Ashton says it doesn't matter whether experts are predicting two storms or twenty.
"It don't matter how many storms there are going to be, it only takes one to ruin your day."
Ashton says no matter what the forecast, they have to be able to activate the EOC in an hour and keep it active for thirty days, so they’re always ready for anything.
We asked several first responders what the public’s role in all this is, and they all told me the same thing: be prepared for anything at anytime and you’ll sleep a lot better.