SARASOTA (WWSB) - The 2018 hurricane season ended Friday with Hurricane Michael being the deadliest of the season, killing at least 43 people in the Florida panhandle. While the Suncoast avoided any direct hits, Manatee County Emergency Management feels it learned more from Michael than Irma.
When Hurricane Michael came through, Manatee County went into level two activation, which was what they called a test run for them. Not only that, but the county sent 75 people to the panhandle to help with recovery, and that’s where emergency management learned the most. Officials are bringing that information back to Manatee County to improve recovery efforts after a storm.
Because Manatee County has never been hit very heavily from a storm, they’ve never had to put a real recovery plan into place. Now, they’re changing that.
The county says after a major storm like Michael, a portion of employees lose everything they have and are expected to come back to work, so there needs to be a support plan for them. The first responders that come to town to help with recovery efforts also need support in terms of a place to sleep, a shower and fuel to get back home.
Manatee County’s recovery plan will also deal with where to house truckloads of donations that come in from across the country like water, food and supplies.
“They bring in truck loads and truck loads of donations, which is a wonderful thing, but they weren’t prepared for that," Manatee County Emergency Management acting chief Steve Litschauer said. "So you have nowhere to put these items, no one to accept the items, no one to support the items, and no one to distribute the items.”
To prepare, Manatee County is already scheduling leadership for different areas of emergency management for when a storm hits and setting schedules for other employees.
The county has already had several meetings and workshops to address the issues and plans to continue to do that through the spring when next hurricane season rolls around.