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Pinellas County Emergency Management seeks storm summit
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INDIAN SHORES – The operations manager for Pinellas County Emergency Management is proposing a county-sponsored emergency management summit that will focus on hurricane preparedness on the beaches.

David MacNamee told members of the Barrier Islands Governmental Council Dec. 5 that he wants to organize the forum for government leaders and the general public. He said it would focus on areas most towns and cities haven’t thought about.

No date has been set but a tentative date of late March or sometime in April is being tossed around.

“We sent two people from my office and 14 people from the region for logistic support in New York (following Hurricane Sandy) for 10 days and they came back with some very interesting stories and recommendations,” MacNamee said. “I’d like to do a summit with some people from our office and some from other areas to walk you through what happens if you can’t get back into this building. How are you going to serve your citizens?”

MacNamee reminded BIG-C members that Sandy was only a category 1 storm but it caused some of the worst flood damage ever seen.

“The thought that it’ll never happen to me here didn’t come true for the people of Staten Island the Rockaways and some of the other areas,” he said. “We won’t answer all of your questions at the summit, but hopefully we’ll give you a lot of information that will help with a quicker recovery.”

MacNamee said he hopes to bring in government officials from Galveston, Texas who can attest to what their city went through, both good and bad, in 2008 when Hurricane Ike struck.

“Unfortunately today, the general population seems to think two things,” said MacNamee. “Number one, it’s not going to happen to me. And number two, if it does happen to me, the government is going to be here and take care of me. This was very evident in New York.”

Further details on the proposed summit will be forthcoming.

In other action:

• Indian Shores councilor Bill Smith said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection would conduct its first public workshop Dec. 18 on Rule 62B-36, which governs how DEP administers beach management. The rule has current and future impact on beach renourishment projects – especially in Belleair Beach where minimum numbers of public parking spaces, required by the state, are necessary for public funding of beach projects. Smith said DEP recently announced a reorganization that eliminates the Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems. “They have taken and reorganized all of the staff into different categories,” Smith sad. “The (Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association) is very concerned about it and has sent a letter of disappointment. They would like further discussion with DEP about it and will be pushing hard to make sure (DEP) doesn’t lose their focus on beaches.”

• Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno said developers of a proposed hotel and a new restaurant on the beach in his city would probably be breaking ground on those two projects within the next 30 days.

• Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos noted that the annual Outback Bowl Beach Day would be held on Clearwater Beach on Sunday, Dec. 30. The event features bands and cheerleaders from both teams playing in the annual bowl game. This year’s game matches the University of Michigan against the University of South Carolina Tuesday, Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium.
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