BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — With hurricane season just a few weeks away, a hurricane preparedness training was held at the Emergency Operations Center for Bay County officials on Tuesday.
Members of different government agencies gathered to simulate a hurricane response plan to prepare for the area’s next potential disaster.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said he and his department owe it to the citizens to practice working together with other local agencies to be prepared for whatever comes our way.
“It’s important from our standpoint that we continue to refine our skills on that and make sure we’re ready to respond to whatever is thrown our way,” Sheriff Ford said. “It gives us the chance to sit down and think about it when we’re not under such pressure of a storm hitting, and it just makes us better when we do have to respond to the event.”
They also tested their Incident Command Post, where officials are able to communicate with other entities when cell carriers are down.
Chief of Emergency Services for Bay County Brad Monroe said the agencies that participated in Tuesday’s event included military personnel, police and fire departments, the Red Cross, hospitals and other healthcare agencies and the Chamber of Commerce.
He also said these agencies would be the ones to respond in an actual disaster event.
“We learned things from Hurricane Michael that we’re applying now to the way we operate here and what we recommend to the general public,” Monroe said.
Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm said getting to exercise the plans as a group feels like a sense of normalcy.
“It’s practicing for gameday,” Hamm said. “They’re pretending like a Category 2 store is coming through… So they’re going through the mock procedures of evacuating low-lying areas and anticipating floods and things of that nature like typical hurricane scenarios.”
Sheriff Ford also said citizens should begin thinking about their own hurricane preparedness plans, as the hurricane season officially begins on June 1.