Be Aware - Be Prepared


[Photo: Larry Gispert, Hillsborough County EMD]
Larry Gispert, Hillsborough County EMD, explains why everyone needs a plan

HUD and Hillsborough County Provide Hurricane Preparedness Training in Tampa, FL
Training Draws Diverse Audience

Expecting a busy hurricane season this year, HUD's Tampa Office partnered with Hillsborough County emergency management to present a unique day of education. Guided by a quote from the National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield, "Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy", the day offered a variety of information for participants from throughout Florida. It was so unique, that HUD and Hillsborough County received a commendation from the office of Florida Congressman Michael Bilirakis.

On Friday, May 19, 2006, 176 participants gathered at NetPark Office Complex in Tampa. In addition to the targeted audience of multifamily, public housing and private property managers, attendees included representatives of both Florida Senators and several members of the House of Representatives.

The program, led by HUD's own Tampa Field Office Director, Karen Jackson Sims, included an opening session by Larry Gispert, Director, Hillsborough County Emergency Management Department. Mr. Gispert's presentation outlined the impact of the 2004-05 hurricanes as well as illustrations of how a similar catastrophe would affect the Tampa Bay Area. Morning panels included "If I Only Knew THEN What I Know Now!", during which graphic experiences were shared by the panel in a "lessons learned" format. Panelists included Bob Harlow (SPM, Inc., a private multifamily management firm); Al Kirkland, Executive Director, Lake Wales Housing Authority; and Nicholas Dickerson, Assistant Disaster Coordinator, Tampa Housing Authority. The morning concluded with "Disaster Housing: Cornerstone of Recovery", by Roy Dunn, Disaster Housing Chief, Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Afternoon sessions included (1) a panel of resource experts from HUD's multifamily and public housing divisions and Ruby Smith of the American Red Cross, and (2) a presentation by Holley Wade, Hillsborough County Emergency Management Department. The workshop, "Often Overlooked Items in Emergency Planning", culminated in an exercise where participants developed hurricane response and recovery plans.

By day's end, each attendee had been provided with a thorough knowledge of disaster impacts, potential effects of local storms, resources for recovery, an outline for plan development and a variety of publications from HUD and FEMA. Although now better informed and hopefully prepared, everyone agreed they would prefer to avoid weather which would result in implementing their plan. They were advised to "THINK SUNSHINE!"

Content Archived: July 11, 2011