During Hurricane Irma’s response a year ago, hundreds of first responders and government workers from around the state traveled to Monroe County to help in a variety of roles. To repay the support and to gain more experience in emergency response, Monroe County staff and Fire Rescue crews traveled to the Panhandle the past few days to assist the State and County emergency management operations respond to the aftermath of Category 4 Hurricane Michael.
“Many people came to help us recover after Irma and we are paying it back,” Monroe County Roman Gastesi said. “We provided lessons learned and some tips. We also left the Panhandle with more experience on how to deal with future emergencies in the Keys.”
Monroe County supported emergency operations in hardest-hit Bay County, which includes Mexico Beach and Panama City. Monroe County Emergency Management Director Marty Senterfitt deployed before the storm struck and originally was in Okaloosa County. With limited destruction there, he was reassigned to Bay County to assist its Emergency Management Director. Senterfitt will continue to support those efforts for the next couple of weeks.
Gastesi, Monroe County Assistant County Administrator Christine Hurley, Monroe County Budget Director Tina Boan and Monroe County Sustainability Director Rhonda Haag also spent the past few days assisting Bay County and providing valuable lessons learned from Hurricane Irma.
Monroe County Assistant Attorney Cynthia Hall deployed to the state Emergency Operations Center before the storm struck to work in the Logistics Session, where she is ordering supplies that are being used in the 11 impacted counties. Joining Hall at the state EOC are Monroe County Emergency Management staff Jeff Manning, who is working in the Planning Section, and Matt Massoud, who is working with Mass Care. Gastesi also had the opportunity to speak with FEMA Director Brock Long while he was at the state EOC.
Monroe County also deployed a team to small and rural Franklin County, which includes Apalachicola. The team of Monroe County Assistant Administrator Kevin Wilson, Employee Services Director Bryan Cook and Public Information Officer Cammy Clark assisted the three-person Franklin County Emergency Management Staff.
And Monroe County Fire Rescue deployed a tanker to Calhoun County as part of Strike team 501T. The tanker is manned by Lt. John Hamburger and Firefighter Alex Baguer. Firefighter David Reeves was deployed to Bay County and Battalion Chief Mark Thompson is working in the State Emergency Operations Center.
Monroe County Fire Rescue also has been collecting donations and implementing a boot drive to collect funds for victims of Hurricane Michael.