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Executive Summary

The organizational structure for emergency evacuation and response within Pinellas County is a well-developed collaboration between the county, 24 cities, law enforcement, fire services, and hundreds of community partners and agencies. For large-scale events or incidents, the primary agencies and partners form a Response Operations Coordination (ROC) group to discuss scenarios and operational concerns and to plan implementation and timing of emergency actions. In response to a hurricane, the ROC group holds an initial meeting once the county enters the three-day forecast cone, the anticipated path of the storm. The group then meets—in person or virtually—every six hours as new hurricane advisories are issued. The ROC also meets in the aftermath of a storm to promote information-sharing among all area partners. 

The eye of Hurricane Irma passed about 40 miles east of Pinellas County during the early morning hours of September 11. While the county prepared and evacuated for a direct hit by a Category 2 storm, it was spared the worst impacts when it received sustained tropical storm-force winds and up to Category hurricane-strength gusts with negligible storm surge. Pinellas County had not experienced a hurricane since 2004, when Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne affected the county. Since then, hundreds of county, municipal, andprivate-sector  organizations have spent months and years planning for the next hurricane to strike the county. Personnel from these agencies worked long hours before, during, and after the storm to communicate with the public, evacuate residents and visitors (including those with special needs), open and operate hurricane shelters for people and pets, repair infrastructure damage, and remove debris.

Although Pinellas County escaped a storm surge, Hurricane Irma left behind more than $38 million in damage to  usinesses, residences, and infrastructure. Over 400,000 county customers lost power, with outages lasting up to a week for some customers. However, despite the disruption of infrastructure and massive movement of people—including hospital patients—no lives were lost in Pinellas County during the storm.

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  • Pages: 27
  • Document Number:
  • Publication Date: 1/31/2018
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