Irma after action review findings to be presented
Hurricane Irma after action review findings to be presented to county commission Wednesday
SARASOTA COUNTY - The findings of the after action review of the community's response to Hurricane Irma will be presented to the Sarasota County Commission at its meeting Wednesday afternoon. The review identifies strengths and recommends actions to further enhance the county's disaster response following the historic September 2017 storm.
The review was led by former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, who was engaged by the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation in partnership with the county.
The independent and holistic review included more than 23 meetings and input from hundreds of stakeholders representing the local municipalities, Sarasota County Schools, area nonprofits, law enforcement, the business community and the public. It also included peer reviews by three emergency management professionals from around the state and facilitation by Fugate, who served as President Barack Obama's FEMA administrator from 2009-17 and as Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's emergency management director from 2001-09.
"We appreciate the partnership of the foundations, who helped make it possible for us to bring in such experienced and well-respected emergency management professionals to review our response and capture and refine our best practices," said Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis.
Fugate and the reviewers examined Sarasota County's actions before, during and after the storm's impact, including protective actions, evacuation orders, shelter openings, recovery operations and debris collection.
"The Sarasota County team should be proud of its accomplishments in the face of an unprecedented storm, including successfully sheltering 20,000 people, far more than it ever had in its history," Fugate said. "Our review looks at small opportunities for the community to enhance what's already working."
County staff has been actively engaged in all the stakeholder meetings throughout the highly transparent review process, and many of the recommendations are already being put into place. The major areas of focus include hurricane evacuation center planning, public education programs, employee planning and preparation, Emergency Operations Center processes and emergency contracts.
"We recognize that another hurricane season is fast approaching, and the collaborative efforts of our community partners as part of this after action review will help us enhance our future responses to disaster," said Emergency Services Director Rich Collins.
Fugate will present the review findings to the county commission when it resumes for its afternoon session at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting will be held in the commission chambers at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. It will be broadcast live on Access Sarasota (Comcast channel 19, Verizon channel 32) and on www.scgov.net. The final after action report is also now available online at www.scgov.net/IrmaAAR.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.