Hurricane Oversight Committee could offer Irma insights

Authorities are going over what when right and what went wrong after the hurricane to be more responsive next time.

ST. PETERSBURG — Millions of you waited for power. Some are still waiting.

Thousands of first responders came to the rescue.

We've seen incredible stories of survival. And sadly, loss of life.

Now, one state lawmaker wants a commission to study the Hurricane Irma response to see what Florida can do better next time.

But will this commission have any teeth?

The short answer is no.

Any results from a Hurricane Oversight Commission - and it's still an **if** on whether Governor Scott will create one - would be purely recommendations for best practices.

But, here's why it matters so much.

We've never seen a storm like Irma hit Florida before. It affected the entire state. Millions of people took it seriously and evacuated.

Every emergency management apparatus in nearly every county and the national guard was activated.

Responders had to plan for three different big paths that the storm could have taken in just a few days.

And State Sen. Jeff Brandes says that's why there is so much we can learn from how the response went.

“Whether it be looking at the shelters, the utilities, medical facilities, how all of the emergency operation center is activated and operated during the time,” Brandes said. “But I think a complete review on a commission level is something that's appropriate for a storm the size of Irma and an activation the size of Irma.

"When there's a hurricane like Irma that affects the entire state, I think that's the perfect time to do a deep dive and learn some really valuable lessons.”

And yes, Brandes says burying power lines should be part of that conversation.

The members of that commission would be appointed by the governor - and Brandes says he wants them to be experts in their field - logistics, retail experts for routes, gas, power, hospitals - all of the kinds of people who could gain from learning what worked and what didn't.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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