BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — After Hurricane Michael, Bay County was able to recognize some deficiencies when it comes to infrastructure.
Communication technologies were put on that list of improvements.
Cell phones, TVs and computers were rendered useless after Hurricane Michael, making it difficult for safety officials to communicate important information to everyone in Michael’s path.
“We always plan for the worst and hope for the best because we saw in Michael you know every single contingency we had failed,” said County Manager, Bob Makja. “Once you start losing major systems like power and cell phone, you know you got to have a plan B and plan C.”
The county has spent the last four years upgrading their cellular, wi-fi and radio technologies.
“Our intent is that these changes will result in a more resilient and more robust system and we won’t see the same problems that we saw after Michael,” Makja said.
Some of the upgrades include portable wi-fi units, cell phones from multiple vendors in case networks go out and new generators for all communications towers.
“If you don’t have good, effective, clear, reliable communications, it affects your ability to command, control, manage an incident, it affects your ability to get timely information out to the public,” Makja said.
Chief Infrastructure Officer, Keith Bryant, said these upgrades will also help other situations like if a wire is accidentally cut.
“It’s utility contractors not knowing where our line is at and accidentally cutting it, a homeowner cutting it, a car wreck taking out a power pole so it’s going to give us redundancy for day-to-day operations as well,” Bryant said.
The county has also added dedicated fiber-optic lines between here, the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and the Department of Transportation office in Chipley. They have also gone back to a more robust HAM radio system so they can have other options besides internet and cell phones.