County retreat focuses on resilience

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 11, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Leon County commissioners met Monday for a day of progress reports and agenda setting for the new year.

The county held its annual retreat at the Goodwood Conference Center. This year's theme was "building resilience to serve and strengthen our community."

"We've been through a couple of hurricanes this past year and resilience is what we do before we actually get to those points," said county Chairman Nick Maddox. "It just helps us to take one more step forward in making our citizens feel safe."

Over the last year, the county took big steps to improve hurricane response and preparedness.

Among those are implementing nearly all 80 recommendations from a Hurricane Hermine after action report, focusing its citizens engagement series around preparedness and expanding its annual hurricane survival guide to be a disaster survival guide. A partnership was also expanded with WFSU.

County staff said more than 1,300 people turned out for the 2017 build your bucket event, which is more than double the year before. And, during Hurricane Irma more than 500 county staff worked through the storm.

To emphasis the focus of resiliency during the retreat, Leslie Chapman Henderson with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes spoke.

"The number one challenge in 20 years hasn't changed," said Henderson."We're great at this stuff after, motivated after. But, it's not the time. We have to start ahead and we have to care before it happens."

Henderson warned of a few things, including residents falling into two sides of the spectrum: hurricane amnesia and hurricane hysteria. She said through strong preparation, both the county and residents can avoid both sides and find a happy medium.

"Know where you're going to be, have your supplies, check your insurance, and make sure that your home is built in a way that it can survive. Once you do those things, you're set," she said.

She also warned about building codes noting that if building codes are not strong and enforced that there will be no place to stay during a storm, but also no place to return to following a storm.

Following Henderson's lead, the commission moved to become a "Hurricane Strong" community.

"Informing our citizens, making sure we have everything in place to make sure their houses are strong. And that they have everything they need to be prepared. So just making sure we're taking steps before the time comes that we have to deal with a hurricane, that we're ready and that we stand ready to deal with it," said Maddox.

During the retreat the commission also prioritized other initiatives, adding more ideas to the county's five year strategic plan.

Chairman Maddox recommended a budget discussion to consider financially supporting the Ready for Work program, which helps felons prepare for the workforce following jail. He also wants to see action implemented in dealing with affordable housing.

Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley would like to see a community wide climate plan. And, Commissioner Jimbo Jackson would like to continue working with the Florida Department of Transportation for better signage and safer roads.

Commissioner Bryan Desloge proposed a quarterly crime report from the Sheriff and Tallahassee Police Department. as well as a raising more awareness about the trails in Leon County.

And, Commissioner Kristin Dozier would like to see a continued partnership with Shop Local 850, the development of a data source to track local shopping and a bigger effort to support local businesses that do work regional .

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