Former Duval County emergency preparedness director dies

City of Jacksonville leaders mourning death of Steven Woodard

A file photo of Steven Woodard, who was the Duval County director of emergency preparedness at the time.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Duval County Emergency Preparedness Director Steven Woodard has died, the city of Jacksonville announced Friday. He was 64.

Woodard joined the city in 2013 and led the Emergency Preparedness Divison until this March, when he retired.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the sudden loss.”

“Steve was a tremendous public servant. He was vital to ensuring Jacksonville’s citizens were prepared and protected during some of the most unprecedented times we have ever encountered. But Steve wasn’t just a servant leader, he was a friend and someone we all enjoyed working with in any situation,” Curry said. “I join the community in mourning this loss, and offer my thoughts and prayers to his family and the entire team here at the City of Jacksonville.”

Woodard was responsible for overseeing the preparation, prevention, response, recovery and mitigation during disasters that included hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017.

“The sudden passing of Director Woodard was devastating news to the Emergency Preparedness team here at JFRD,” said Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said. “Steve was the consummate professional and always had such a calming demeanor during the most trying emergency events. His passion was keeping this community safe and that was on full display every time he was at work. We are going to miss our co-worker and friend.”

Before Woodard was appointed to the position in Jacksonville, he served as a top administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., from 2008 to 2013. He was there in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic, and he used that past experience to help Jacksonville during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to his time with FEMA, Woodard held positions in the United States Secret Service.

He graduated from West Virginia University and also attended the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at the Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard School of Public Health.