ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Eight months after Hurricane Matthew hit the first coast the 2017 hurricane season kicked off the week of June 1st. With that, the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center hosted a mock hurricane training exercise all day on Thursday with about 150 people involved in the drill.
The EOC hosts the training exercise every year. This year they acted as if “Hurricane Henry” was about to make landfall as a faux Category 3 hurricane. Officials from dozens of agencies like the Sheriffs Office, the National Guard and the National Weather Service took part in the all-day exercise.
The Director of the SJC EOC, Linda Stoughton, won Governor Rick Scott’s highest award for her hurricane preparedness during Matthew. She says this year they are taking what they learned from Matthew and apply it to their latest efforts. One thing that will change is their mandatory re-evacuation entry tags. She said the tags were too complicated and took focus off of people leaving as quickly as possible, so now any kind of identification will work.
The Deputy Director, Jeff Alexander, said his two biggest pieces of advice following Matthew were to invest in the proper insurance and know your evacuation zone ahead of time. He said not enough people had flood insurance and hurricane insurance.
To find your evacuation zone you can go to the SJC EOC website and type in your address. That way you will know whether or not your area is being evacuated à http://www.gis.bocc.co.st-johns.fl.us/MYEZ/.
The Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Al Sandrik, says they have better measurements of the impact of Matthew that they can apply to their forecasting this year. He says the water rose up to 6 feet but the waves along the first coast rose to at least 12 feet high.
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