The start of hurricane season is less than a month away. Yet in Florida, planning for violent weather never takes time off. Proof was evident at a summit this week hosted by the stateâ€™s Division of Emergency Management (DEM).
The first-ever Florida Public Sector-Private Sector Disaster Preparedness Summit was held in Daytona Beach. About 300 people attended, and I was among them. Overall theme: Government needs to partner with and integrate the private sector into all phases of emergency management. They cannot â€“ and should not â€“ be expected to go it alone, and they benefit from and welcome the insight and expertise of private businesses.
The goal of the two-and-a-half day summit was to solicit direction to support the efforts of state and county emergency management, volunteer organizations and business. It was the start of building dialogue, to engage stakeholders in disaster recovery so all the pieces of preparedness work together to ensure the state bounces back from disaster as rapidly as possible. The insurance industry is an economic first-responder after disaster; we write the checks, so joining in the conversation made sense. Plus, there is no substitute for showing up!
Bryan Koon is the director of the DEM. He was previously operations manager for Walmartâ€™s emergency management department. He pointed out that his Walmart role was to handle preparedness, planning, recovery and mitigation in every state and 30 international locations. He noted that Walmart employees and their families represent one percent of the U.S. population, so getting those people engaged in recognizing hazards in the community makes an impact. You can make an impact, too.
Think about what the private sector brings to the conversation. As a speaker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency made clear, private sector businesses do things right because big mistakes put them out of business, and a similar threat does not hang over government entities.
Want to step up and be involved in building a more resilient Florida? Some ideas:
- Be part of your communityâ€™s Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan.
- Connect with John Cherry, who is the private sector coordinator for the Division of Emergency Management.
- Join the Florida Emergency Management Association.
- Contact your county emergency management office to inquire about how you may add value.
Floridians, disaster preparedness is not a spectator sport. Get in the game.