Team effort for Bay County as hurricane season begins

Emergency officials spend several months ensuring they are prepared for the season
It's the first official day of hurricane season, and emergency response teams are ready.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many residents say they’re prepared and ready to make quick moves in the event of a hurricane.

That’s because a lot of them were here during Hurricane Michael.

But they aren’t the only ones getting ready for the season. In fact, emergency officials have been preparing all year.

Bay County’s Emergency Operation Center is where emergency officials spend their time monitoring brewing storms.

They said they prepare by ensuring warehouses are stacked with food, water, and medical supplies.

In the case of a disaster activation, county and city officials will make their way to the Incident Command Center at EOC.

Emergency Preparedness Section Chief, Eric Kunzman, said emergency response has been training all year with fire and police departments.

He said the most difficult part: the unknown.

“We have a system that’s turning in the Gulf right now,” Kunzman said. “We don’t know if it’s going to go south or if it’s going to change and go north through us. So, the unknown and the fact that hurricanes are developing quicker now, so it gives us less time to prepare prior to landfall. So, it’s a lot of effort throughout the year to be ready for this season.”

And while it’s vital for residents to be just as prepared as officials, they only have to protect their households.

Kunzman said prep for them includes making sure they can protect hundreds of families.

“For us, we have to be ready for the entire county, not just our individual families,” he said. “We have to get food and water ready for the entire population. We have to have our plans ready to go for not just the county...not just the county, but all the municipalities we serve.”

He also said this year, officials implemented a new emergency response team.

Volunteers who are trained in disaster preparedness, basic medical, and search and rescue can all assist in recovery efforts.

It’s a team effort in making sure Bay County is ready to take on this season.

For more information on how to sign up to volunteer, click here. To sign up for emergency notifications, click here.