National Hurricane Conference: Disaster preparedness center stage
I’ve been at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando all week, and there is a certain feeling of pride in observing the energy and commitment of such a diverse group coming together to learn from past disasters in order to better prepare for the next one. This conference is billed as a forum for education and training in hurricane and disaster preparedness—and it takes all kinds of skills to do that. Attendees include emergency management professionals from cities and counties all over the U.S., along with city planners, health care officials, military personnel, meteorologists—and scores of others. It’s estimated that about 1,500 people are at the conference, and the insurance industry is here, too, because we are organizing workshops and giving presentations to stress the important role that proper insurance protection plays in planning and disaster recovery.
On Monday, Tom Iovino of the Pinellas County Dept. of Communication hosted a day-long workshop on public education called “Reach Out with Outreach,” which highlighted creative and effective programs to deliver disaster preparedness information. I delivered a presentation on how insurers use social media and also gave an overview on the liability risks of social media. (Yes, as the opportunities to tweet, message, share and “like” grow, so do the risks, and we have a white paper on social media liability and insurance that explains further.) Jeanne Salvatore, among my esteemed colleagues at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), spoke at the conference on the social media capabilities of insurers during a disaster. The percentage of people using social networking keeps on growing, and it has frequently proven to effectively keep people connected after a natural disaster.
Dr. Steven Weisbart of the I.I.I. spoke at the general session about the shifting nature of catastrophic losses in the U.S., noting that damage from thunderstorms and tornadoes has outpaced hurricane losses in recent years.
There’s always something to be learned, and one gem for me was learning about how the disaster loans and grants work. That’s my topic for next week’s post.