Breaking News
More () »

How Pinellas County Emergency Management is preparing, planning for Ian

Preparations are underway across the bay area, and first responders are working hard to stay ahead of the storm.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Before a storm hits, preparation is the name of the game.

“Right now we want to make sure our residents are preparing early. Make sure you have your hurricane kit ready to go whether you’re staying or whether you’re going,” said Ashley Johnson with the Pinellas County emergency operations center.

Emergency management is reminding people that part of staying ready is staying informed.

"Know your zone, make sure you know the difference between your flood zone and your evacuation zone. You can be in an evacuation zone and not in a flood zone, and you can be in a flood zone and not an evacuation zone,” Johnson said.

The county has been preparing for this situation for months. In May, they ran through a hurricane simulation exercise.

The simulation, named Hurricane Amaranth, is scheduled to make its simulated landfall on Friday as a Category 2 storm. The exercise puts the county through worst-case scenarios of losing power and cell service.

"Well basically, if you can't communicate with people you've really got a problem. The shelters need to be able to talk to the EOC to let them know, do they need further assistance," said Clayton Parrott, a technical systems programs manager.

If cell service goes down, mobile cell towers go up in less than an hour and provide internet and cell service wherever it’s needed.

"One of the things that we saw after Hurricane Andrew was that you weren't hearing anything from the communities from South Dade. It wasn't because they were OK, it was because they had no communications to be able to relay information," said Cathie Perkins The Pinellas County Emergency Management Director.

It’s just one of a number of backup systems the county has in place to ensure it’s ready for any situation.

"Worst case scenario there’s a lot of different operations happening behind the scene to make sure our residents are prepared,” Johnson said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out