2012 State of Florida Public-Private Sector Disaster Preparedness Summit

This week, me, and about 300 of my new best friends are gathered in Daytona Beach, Florida for the 2012 Florida Public-Private Sector Disaster Preparedness Summit. The event has brought together the public sector (government, first responders, emergency managers, and economic development folks) with the private sector (the very large big-box retailers, the local Chambers of Commerce, along with consultants, contractors, and vendors), and also the volunteer organizations (including the larger not-for-profits and faith-based organizations).

The audience represents about 3/4 of Florida’s 67 counties, and we’ve been discussing specific challenges such as information sharing between the public sector and the private sector, certification challenges for members of the private sector, and our favorite topic of re-entry into the impacted regions following the immediate life-safety, search & rescue, and clean-up efforts. There have been lots of excellent ideas, candid discussions, and networking with key indivduals at the Federal, State, County, and local municipality levels.

Stay tuned to this website for copies of the presentations, and collections of findings and “next steps”:   http://www.floridadisaster.org/flppsummit2012/

Here’s an article about the conference from the local Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Emergency management summit aims to help Florida rebound after disasters



May 1, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH — Business and government emergency managers from across Florida are meeting in Daytona Beach this week to boost partnerships between public and private groups, hoping to help Floridians recover more quickly from the next disaster.

The question isn’t if a weather-related disaster will strike, it’s when, and state officials want governments and businesses to be ready to respond quickly, efficiently and together.

That’s the message Bryan Koon, the state’s emergency management director, wants the 300 people attending the Public Sector-Private Sector Disaster Preparedness Summit to take home when they leave Wednesday.

Koon, who came to his position 15 months ago from Walmart, said Monday he wants to “get down to details” on building Florida’s ability to be more resilient after disaster events and get the private sector more engaged in that process.

“Our goal is to help the community get back to the way it was as fast as possible,” he said. “The best way to do that is to engage them (businesses) on the front end.”

Emergency officials across Florida were invited to attend the conference, which began Monday at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, and Koon said he asked them to bring their local chamber and business development workers. Representatives from Flagler and Volusia counties were in the audience, including groups that work with emergency officials to help match volunteers with needs, such as Jean MacCallister with Flagler Volunteer Services.

Koon said he hopes to foster relationships that help businesses be more successful and look at how the private sector can “help us help the community be more successful.”

To get that message across Monday morning, Koon and his staff held up a groundbreaking local partnership as a model for others to follow. The Daytona Business Operations Center was created by the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Center for Business Excellence, and tied to Volusia County’s Emergency Operations Center.

“It’s about businesses helping businesses and business helping emergency management,” said the chamber’s Kevin Killian, who addressed the summit Monday morning. The goal is to help businesses get up and running more quickly, he said, “and to help the community return to normalcy in a more quick time frame.”

The partnership grew out of the recovery from the 2004 hurricanes, Killian said. The Chamber has had a seat at the emergency operations center for decades but realized after the 2004 storms that people across the table were going out of county and even out of state for materials and services.

John Cherry, Koon’s private sector coordinator, said the state is working to improve communication between emergency officials and the business community after a disaster. The Volusia partnership is a prime example of how that could be done.

“We’re trying to show a model for other counties that they can do at a very low cost,” Cherry said.

Participants were riveted during a talk by Home Depot official Chris Canoles, who recounted the company’s experiences during the aftermath of the Joplin, Mo., tornado on May 22. The Joplin store was destroyed, killing seven people inside, including a store employee trying to help people seeking shelter from the storm. Canoles said debris from the store was found up to four miles away.

“You have to prepare for the worst,” Canoles said. “We were prepared, but we weren’t prepared for the worst.”

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