Drill prepares emergency management for category 4 hurricane to hit West Palm Beach

State and county officials on hand to 'respond'

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - With hurricane season appraching, emergency officials statewide are testing their response to a catastrophic storm.

The scenario: A category 4 hurricane named "Griffin" bearing down on South Florida, making landfall at West Palm Beach. Representatives from county and state emergency response agencies gathered in one command center at the Emergency Operations Center off Military Trail in West Palm Beach.

Officials say they have new software they're testing so it will help operations run smoother. It provides minute-by-minute updates of what's going on at shelters, hospitals and out on roadways.

The 8-hour exercise involved everything from trash collection, to setting up shelters, to finding a lost pet after a storm. Potential curfews, need for supplies and electricity concerns were discussed.

"God forbid if we are hit by a major hurricane this is an asset. Everyone with a key role in response is in the operations room," says Vince Bonvento, the Assistant Palm Beach County Administrator.

The last time the Emergency Operations Center was activated was during Wilma in 2005.
Now officials challenge residents to prepare their households for natural disasters.

"We're not going to be able to be out in a day or two. It's not going to be possible. People will have to be prepared to have food and supplies on hand in that interim period," says Bonvento.

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