Jacksonville officials train for storms

Emergency Operations Center focusing on recovery efforts

Published On: May 21 2013 03:32:18 PM EDT   Updated On: May 21 2013 09:30:12 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

In Jacksonville and across the state, officials were training Tuesday to react to storms.

Those at the Emergency Operations Center were watching how Oklahoma is responding and learning from its operations following Monday's devastating tornado.

Local officials are conducting a drill most of this week in preparing for an emergency in Jacksonville. The drill simulates two hurricanes hitting florida at once, one on each coast.

"We have pre-notice of these events," said Capt. Billy Estep, of Emergency Operations. "Unfortunately, the circumstance in Oklahoma are no-notice events. They are almost instantaneous, so they are really in reactive mode. As with a hurricane, we have the opportunity to be proactive in many cases."

This year the city is taking a different approach. The training is focusing on what happens after the storm.

"Our emphases this year is on recovery," Estep said.

EOC and responders are looking at what do do right away, but they are also looking at the weeks, months, even years it could take to recover from a storm -- exactly what is happening right now in Oklahoma.

All areas of the city are represented at the drill, including hospitals and schools.

School staff in Jacksonville say they're still using the same school tornado drill method they have for the last few years in which students would be moved to hallways away from windows. The drill is done once a year.

"The stronger chance you have is in a frame, a steel frame building," said Paul Soares, of Duval County Public Schools. "Our newer schools would do better than our older schools in terms of modern construction steal frame, but very few buildings can undergo 200 mph winds."

The training is not only with the city. The Navy is doing the same thing. Naval Air Station Jacksonville is training under a similar scenario -- two hurricanes hitting at once.

"You have to train like it's the real world because you don't have time when it's hitting the fan, so to speak," Rear Admiral Jack Scorby said. "You got to be prepared."