After an unprecedented decade without a land-falling hurricane impacting Florida, the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season reminded the Florida emergency management community that tropical cyclones are our top natural hazard risk. The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, and the deadliest since 2005; starting five months before the official start date with Hurricane Alex in mid-January. Eighty (80) percent of the 2016 named storms made landfall; five of them hitting the United States, and three striking Florida.
The decade-long hiatus presented all of us with several challenges to maintain our readiness. Many feared that complacency, denial, “hurricane amnesia,” generational inexperience, distorted or hyped messages, and other challenges would impede our preparedness efforts. However, contrary to predictions, overall, responses were favorable and the public heeded our warnings and took appropriate actions, demonstrating that readiness efforts work; Preparedness Works! New technologies such as social media and other innovative communication systems were leveraged to effectively communicate the significant threat that hurricanes pose to Florida, and people responded and acted. On-going comprehensive emergency management planning, training, and exercise programs paid dividends to prepare emergency responders from all disciplines for the challenges presented. Professionals and the public recognize that the 2016 hurricanes that affected Florida were not worst-case scenarios, yet gave us the opportunity to see that our efforts have been successful. Through the Governor’s Hurricane Conference® we can build upon those experiences through training, networking, and sharing lessons-learned.
This year marks the 31st anniversary of your conference where we come together again as partners and industry peers – we can enrich our professional knowledge so that we can enhance interagency coordination and cooperation, to work together to apply connect our communities’ expertise and resources to ensure that we can withstand hurricane events, and recover from them with proficiency and flexibility. The Governor’s Hurricane Conference® is the largest forum in the nation that offers cutting-edge sessions to expand our readiness capacity to effectively enhance collaboration. Specifically structured to present information in a dynamic and network-centered atmosphere, the conference program provides extensive opportunities for emergency management practitioners from Florida and across the country to learn from and partner with each other and create effective partnerships. Working together gives us a significant advantage to successfully retool our hurricane plans and adequately prepare for tropical events and their consequences.
With more than 45 training sessions and 45 workshops, the Governor’s Hurricane Conference® remains the premier event for the delivery of economical training and education to ensure our ability to adequately prepare for, respond to, and recover from, tropical cyclones. This year’s training sessions, workshops, and general session will focus on innovative methods to reaffirm that Preparedness Works! Our virtual social media efforts, expansive exhibit hall, and improved conference “app,” each provide added opportunities to leverage technology and resources to further enhance your learning experience. We welcome you to engage in the discussion and networking, and participate in our collaborative efforts.