July 2006

Governor’s Hurricane Conference Features FSEC Programs on Renewables and Sustainability

photo of concrete house with one room standing walls with pool
The destructive power of Hurricane Katrina left her mark on one of many homes in Mississippi.
Photo: Bill Young

The words “hurricane season” have taken on new meaning for Floridians during the past two years. The state has been battered on all sides by some of the most destructive storms in history, and many new efforts have begun to prepare citizens for future storms.

One older effort that has continued but made big changes is the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference, which held its 20th annual meeting in May in Fort Lauderdale. It brought together more than 3,000 people from the public and private sectors with emergency management responsibilities to discuss strategies for dealing with hurricane planning, response, recovery and mitigation.

For the 14th consecutive year, FSEC was well represented at this meeting with both a display of photovoltaic (PV) equipment that can be used during disaster recovery and participation in a workshop on “Emergency Power in a Disaster 101.” FSEC’s Bill Young joined with Jeff Curry of Lakeland Electric to put on a 3-1/2 hour program on utility company emergency operations, emergency generator power, renewable energy sources and operational disaster-resistant buildings. Bill also gave a report on damage assessment from last year’s storms showing the survivability of solar equipment and discussing the benefits of solar systems after a major storm.

“It was a great program,” he noted. “The attendees included emergency managers, first responders, public works employees, city managers and Red Cross and other volunteer organizations from around the state as well as outside of Florida. What I especially like in this year’s program that was a major step forward was the promotion of the Florida Office of Emergency Management’s priority that preparing for a hurricane is not just the government’s responsibility but also a civic responsibility for everyone living in our state. This gave us the chance to talk about ways that home owners and business owners as well as government agencies could use PV and other solar systems during and after natural disasters like hurricanes.”

Young added that he took the Governor’s theme of promoting the development of a new "culture of preparedness” to talk to the attendees about disaster resistance in a sustainable way. “I discussed that instead of responding to a disaster with massive resources, each individual and business should consider building a disaster-resistant building that is structurally sound, very energy efficient, and power by renewables for sustainability,” he explained. “As a result, future disasters will have minimal damage, impact, cost and we’ll even be saving lives.”

For more information on FSEC’s activities in the area of disaster relief, visit www.energyfordisasters.org.

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