Emergency managers challenged to educate public
by Jennifer Kay, Associated Press
April 16, 2014 03:15 PM | 405 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, speaks about new color-coded maps that will help coastal residents understand the dangers of storm surge during the upcoming storm season at the 2014 National Hurricane Conference, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. Knabb is joining emergency managers and forecasters from Texas to Maine this week at the conference. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, speaks about new color-coded maps that will help coastal residents understand the dangers of storm surge during the upcoming storm season at the 2014 National Hurricane Conference, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. Knabb is joining emergency managers and forecasters from Texas to Maine this week at the conference. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
slideshow
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Two of the country's top disaster experts on Wednesday challenged emergency managers and forecasters from Texas to Maine to help educate coastal residents and developers about hurricane hazards.

Speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged city and county officials to factor disaster preparedness and risk into proposals for any new coastal development or post-storm reconstruction, along with job creation and tax revenues. But Craig Fugate also said he wouldn't necessarily discourage building along the country's storm-prone coastline.

Ideally, the risk should be shouldered by the private sector and not taxpayers, and plans should account for potential changes in population growth or sea level rise, Fugate said.

"We have rebuilt all kinds of infrastructure after a storm only to (see it) get washed away in the next storm. Why? Because we keep building to the past. We have to build to the future," Fugate told reporters later.

National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb warned that many people on the Gulf and East coasts don't know whether they live in an evacuation zone and don't understand that a hurricane's wind speeds won't necessarily correspond to its storm surge.

"These folks need us to be more clear," he said. "We need to make it easier."

Storm surge — the abnormal rise of sea water during a hurricane — is one of the deadliest and most damaging storm hazards, but it's also hard to predict and hard to explain. This year, the hurricane center will try posting color-coded maps online if a storm threatens to make landfall, to show how far inland the ocean might surge and how high that water could rise in individual communities.

The maps are part of an ongoing effort at the hurricane center to emphasize a storm's specific hazards, not just its path or its strength.

"It will enable us to do what words fail miserably at, and that is to clearly convey in a forecast a sense — even with uncertainties of track, intensity and size — of how far inland could the water go," Knabb said. "We have not been communicating that in the public products up to this point."

The six-month Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1.

___

Follow Jennifer Kay on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jnkay .



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides