Ernesto gives Florida Conference trial run

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Ernesto gives Florida Conference trial run

Aug. 31, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0539}

An e-Review Feature
By Tita Parham

Tropical Storm Ernesto didn’t pack the punch some forecasters were anticipating, but it did give Florida Conference disaster response coordinators something no training scenario could — a real threat and focus for preparations.

Ernesto made landfall in South Florida early Aug. 30 as a tropical storm. Less than 36-hours later no conference churches had reported any damage, according to Marilyn Swanson, director of the conference’s risk management program and project director of the Florida Conference Storm Recovery Center.

By early afternoon Aug. 31 the Rev. Rick Cornwell, the conference’s disaster response coordinator, said he had heard from “just about every district coordinator that everything is okay in their districts.”

Swanson called the storm a “non-event” for most parts of the state. Early reports did indicate significant flooding in South Florida's Glades County, and the storm recovery center is working to assess the damages there. Overall, Swanson said going through the process of preparing was a valuable experience. “I think going through the preparation was very helpful … meeting with coordinators, sending notices to churches.”

Swanson said district coordinators learned some things — where to obtain supplies, churches that were willing to become distribution sites, how to go through the process of gathering information. She said the very real threat prompted people to offer items and information the storm recovery center had been requesting “for a while.”

“The district coordinators were really on top of it,” Cornwell said. “People were in place and ready to respond.”

When asked if he thought people might become complacent about preparing for the next storm because of Ernesto’s minor impact on the state, Cornwell said he wasn’t worried. “People understand nature is fickle. One time it can be really ugly; another time a blessing.”


This article relates to Disaster Response.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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