Bay County emergency leaders, politicians give update on possible severe weather

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 1:14 PM CDT
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SOUTHPORT, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County Emergency Operations Center held a press conference on the latest information they had in terms of Hurricane Ian, and how Bay County is staying prepared.

“It is disheartening to be here again, but it’s incredibly encouraging to hear some of the commentary on the briefing we received,” Florida State Rep. Jay Trumbull said.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian was reportedly moving 12 to 14 miles per hour, and is planned to merge over the southeast Gulf of Mexico sometime on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday.

“While this is favorable news for us,” Fire and Emergency Services Chief Brad Monroe said, “We urge you to keep your guard up, and there’s still some uncertainty about the storm. Bay County stands to assist our fellow citizens across the state, many of which came to assist us during Hurricane Michael and Chippoa Complex fires.”

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said the public needs to prepare well in advance for the possible severe weather, too.

“Come up with an evacuation plan you can come up with very quickly in case you need to get the supplies that you need. As you remember during Hurricane Michael, it’s several days before the cavalry rolls in.”

Monroe went on to say the least Bay County could expect is heavy rainfall, but he encourages all residents to monitor their local news, radios, and other types of media.

Rep. Neil Dunn and State Rep. Jay Trumbull also joined the conference, speaking on the resiliency of Bay County residents.

“Let’s stay on top of this thing and not be surprised, and don’t panic,” Congressman Dunn said. “We’ve got this in hand. We’re even more resilient than we were last time.”

Bay County emergency leaders said they learned a lot from Hurricane Michael.

“We have a lot of redundancy that we did not have after Michael,” Monroe said. “We thought we had a really good situation and some of the stuff failed because it was such a catastrophic storm.”

The County was also awarded around $47 million for rebuild efforts and other projects.

“We have pursued and received a lot of state funding and a lot of FEMA funding for resiliency, for rebuilding, for hardening projects, replacing windows, replacing roofs, and making stronger fire departments,” Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll said. “We’ve got areas for laying down in case there’s debris. We’re a lot more prepared now than we were with Hurricane Michael.”

ECO officials urge residents to visit to keep up-to-date on the latest community news and emergencies in the area. You can sign up for notifications by making an account on the website.

You can also call the Citizens Information Center at 850-248-6090 if you have storm-related questions.