Rick Wimberly and Lorin Bristow post stories at the Emergency Management “Alerts and Notifications” blog. Last week’s post found them covering storm preparedness in Poquoson, VA. Read details in the excerpt below.
Poquoson is a quiet coastal town in Virginia. That is, until the storms come. In 2003, Poquoson received about $95,000,000 in property damage from Hurricane Isabel. It did not have to happen, as city officials learned last year. The lesson came from another big storm. The storm last year was very similar to Isabel. It was a strong one. But, the damage was significantly less — about $90,000,000 less, in fact.
What changed from 2003 to 2009 was a concerted approach to avoid such damage, knowing Poquoson would be hit again. City officials and residents rallied, according to a recent article in the Daily Press, which serves Poquoson and the surrounding area.
The program was multi-pronged. Homes were elevated, using federal money. A multi-hazard mitigation plan was implemented. A volunteer Community Emergency Response Team was created. 911 operations were consolidated with the County. A call-in center was established for use during big storms.
Poquoson also subscribed to a high-speed notification service. City Manager Randy Wheeler said damage was down, in part, because of advance notice and instructions to prepare delivered by the telephone notification system, “The messages quickly gave residents in flood prone areas the information they needed to prepare, secure their property, move vehicles and avoid damage by safely parking on higher ground. The CodeRED emergency messages let residents know that we were actively managing the situation”, he said.
I’d never heard of Poquoson before. But, next time I’m in the area, I’ll visit. This is a success story worth celebrating with a walk on their waterfront.
All the best,
Prior to Rick and Lorin’s post, I spoke to Poquoson Police Chief Cliff Bowen who had this to say:
“Residents responded immediately after receiving the CodeRED messages. It was a huge response. I personally couldn’t believe the mass movement of cars that were quickly relocated from flood prone areas. In just a couple of hours, all area parking lots located on higher ground were full. We had to contact parking lots in the adjoining county for additional space. Along with numerous positive phone calls and e-mails from residents, I received a phone call from State Farm insurance thanking us for saving hundreds of cars.”