Palm Beach County, like all communities, is vulnerable to disaster. Despite a long period of relative calm, Palm Beach County has a storied history of major disasters, including the infamous 1928 hurricane which still ranks as the second most deadly in U.S. history. Now during the current period of increased hurricane activity and after recent events in the Gulf States, a major hurricane hitting the county has become more conceivable, albeit just as frightening. Rather than simply hope a disaster never happens here, Palm Beach County has been proactive in increasing its ability and capacity to withstand and recover from a catastrophic disaster event.
Palm Beach County was one of the first jurisdictions in Florida to draft a Post Disaster Redevelopment Plan (PDRP) in 1996. Now, having become more sophisticated in emergency operations and hazard mitigation, the county decided it was also time to strengthen its post disaster planning. The 2006 Countywide Post Disaster Redevelopment Plan is the product of extensive research of best planning practices, lessons learned from recent catastrophic disaster events, and information gathered from participative public workshops. The purpose of the plan is to act as a single reference for guiding decision-making and action during the difficult disaster recovery period, as well as detailing actions that can be taken before a disaster strikes to speed the recovery process. It addresses disaster recovery and redevelopment issues with long-term implications. It does not address pre-disaster mitigation or immediate response and emergency operations, as those are already excellently covered by the Local Mitigation Strategy and the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, respectively.
The PDRP is action-oriented and outlines a countywide implementation approach. Through an Executive Committee representing county, municipal, non-profit, and private stakeholders and a flexible Working Group structure, actions outlined in the plan can be implemented as needed regardless of jurisdictional boundaries and possible staffing fluctuations in a post-disaster environment. Pre-disaster actions and annual maintenance of the plan allow the PDRP Executive Committee and Working Groups to actively prepare for a possible disaster.
Post-disaster actions create a strategy for dealing with minor, major, or catastrophic disasters and are activated by the county’s Executive Policy Group in concert with the PDRP Executive Committee and Recovery Branch Chief. The format of the plan allows new actions to be easily included and new participants to become involved immediately through the Working Groups. The success of the plan relies on the ease of implementation in the aftermath of a disaster and on the participants’ commitment to continually strengthen it by performing “blue skies” preparations. A disaster event, while tragic, also presents a window of opportunity for strengthening communities and working toward disaster resilience. With a strong plan in place, Palm Beach County can take advantage of those opportunities and more quickly recover from a disaster should it experience one.
Download the full Post Disaster Redevelopment Plan