Post-Hurricane Season Wrap-Up
Commissioner Maria Marino
Now that we are officially moving past the 2022 Hurricane Season and can reflect on the late-season storms that made landfall on Florida’s shores, it is helpful to learn how our county programs work to keep us safe and protect our properties and natural resources.
Fortunately, we were spared most of the damaging effects of Hurricane Nicole, a Category 1 storm that came ashore on North Hutchinson Island just south of Vero Beach on November 10, as areas like ours to the south did not bear the brunt of the storm. Having witnessed in real time, Category 4-Hurricane Ian, which decimated coastal communities in Southwest Florida, and which spawned tornadoes in western Delray Beach, residents took the warnings, watches and evacuation orders seriously.
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) quickly moved into activation on November 7 and reached Level 1 full activation on November 9, as hurricane watches and warnings were issued, returning to normal operations the following Tuesday. During this activation, our incident command team kept in contact with all 39 municipalities and participated in daily conference calls with the State of Florida EOC, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Weather Service. We kept the public informed through news releases, two press conferences, and numerous social media posts.
The County opened seven general population shelters, one pet-friendly shelter, and a special needs shelter, housing 517 of the general population, 21 specials needs persons, and 29 pets. Emergency staff monitored more than 8,000 power outages, and handled 1,095 calls to our Emergency Information Center. Public Works crews locked down eight bascule bridges to allow continuous vehicle traffic, and removed 49 signal heads and 20 LED blank out signs. Staff conducted damage assessments countywide.
Beaches are the first line of defense against the enormous energy from tropical systems that threaten our coastal communities. County-managed beaches were well prepared and performed as designed to mitigate significant damages associated with Hurricane Nicole. Extensive dune and beach restoration work completed over the past few years provided protection to our parks and infrastructure from damages seen elsewhere on Florida’s coast. County staff perform beach condition assessments prior to and immediately following passage of tropical systems as part of their emergency management roles. Preliminary assessments suggest County beaches experienced some sand loss from the dry beach, but we are already seeing some natural recovery as some of this material naturally migrates back to the beach by typical wave conditions.
We were truly fortunate that we ended up outside the direct path of Hurricane Nicole, but given the unpredictability of storm systems despite the advances in weather forecasting, this underscores the need to keep our personal emergency plans ready and our hurricane supplies stocked. You can access the Hurricane Planning Guide at Official Palm Beach County Hurricane Planning Guide (pbcgov.org), or request a print copy by calling the Emergency Information Center at (561) 712-6400.
If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me at (561) 355-2201 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.