As Hurricane Irma sets her sights on Region 5, know that all on the Region Board, as well as your colleagues throughout the association, IAVM leadership, and staff, are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Many of you have lived through previous storms and are no doubt prepared to tackle the inherent challenges. Know that you have a caring professional support group standing by to offer any assistance you might need. First and foremost, stay safe!
The IAVM staff have been in contact with emergency agencies, and have compiled the information below to help you and your immediate families, as you begin to prepare. Know that we are here if you need anything, and encourage you to reach out to your fellow IAVM family through VenueNet, to let us know you are safe, as well as any immediate needs you may have.
Doug Booher, CFE, IAVM Chair of the Board
Todd Hunt, CFE, IAVM Region 5 Director
Hurricane Irma – Latest Information
This Infrastructure Impact Assessment addresses impacts from Hurricane Irma to the Commercial Facilities Sector in South Florida. The Department of Homeland Security/Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA) assesses wind and flood-related damage to commercial facilities could have high local and regional impacts, and low national impacts.
Commercial facilities, including conference and convention centers, are often used as staging centers for emergency management personnel and material during significant events, and in some cases are used as emergency shelters. Indoor sporting arenas are also occasionally used.
OCIA modeling projects that the Palm Beach County Convention Center could potentially experience more than 7 feet of storm surge (figure 3). OCIA modeling projects that five indoor arenas and 14 convention centers are likely to be in the 76-100 percent electric power outage zone (figure 2). Backup generators will likely mitigate the consequences from short-term (1-3 day) power outages, but longer outages could be a concern if facilities are unable to refuel generators due to flooding, debris covered roads or other issues. (U//FOUO)
Entertainment and recreational events at facilities such as sports venues, concert halls, amusement parks, and casinos in the affected region are likely to be cancelled for safety reasons, but event cancellations will affect the region economically. Economic consequences could increase if facilities require repairs before they can reopen. Many businesses are insured and have additional interruption insurance to mitigate the economic losses from extended closures. Extended power outages or the compromise of water and wastewater facilities would impede commercial facilities’ ability to reopen. OCIA modeling projects that 17 sports venues and amusement parks are likely to be in the 76-100 percent electric power outage zone. Outdoor facilities, such as amusement parks, might be more susceptible to flooding and wind damage because they are often located in relatively flat areas. Coastal facilities are also susceptible to storm surge flooding, with current estimates expecting storm surge to exceed 9 feet in some areas. (U//FOUO) South Florida has high concentrations of coastal high rise hotels, office and apartment buildings, and condominiums that might especially be at risk to high winds. Building codes have become stricter since Hurricane Andrew which caused significant building damage when it made landfall in Florida in 1992. Despite the new standards, high winds associated with Hurricane Irma may damage some rooftops and windows.
Develop and document plans for your specific risks.
Protect yourself and family with a Family Emergency Plan
Be sure to plan for locations away from home
Site locations should implement proper Workplace Plans
Make sure schools and daycares have School Emergency Plans
Pet owners should have plans to care for their animals. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offer information on animal health impacts in evacuation shelters.
Before an Evacuation
Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation, and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.
If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.
Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
Develop a family/household communication and re-unification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best actions for each of you and re-unite if you are separated.
Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, both a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling by longer distances if you have a personal vehicle.
If you have a car:
Keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
During an Evacuation
Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
Take your emergency supply kit.
Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.
If time allows:
Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
Please refer to the NOAA website for additional information.