Transit Emergency Planning and Response Assessment Initiative

On Friday, August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley, a Category Four hurricane, after passing over Sanibel Island in Lee County, made landfall on the south west coast of Florida entering Charlotte Harbor, directly impacting Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte in Charlotte County. Hurricane Charlie continued on a northeast track, traveling through Arcadia in DeSoto County, eastern Polk County, the general Orlando area, and finally exiting through Volusia County near Daytona Beach. Over the next six weeks, Charley was followed by three more major hurricanes – Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – that directly impacted the State of Florida. These hurricanes provided a real life exercise for the Florida public transit agencies in responding to storm emergencies. The pre-event and post-event plansand preparations were put to the test. Numerous heroic and unselfish actions by Florida’s public transportation professionals were reported as they responded to Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. The importance of public transportation – especially the community paratransit services – was made readily apparent in community after community.

These four hurricanes stressed the public transportation community, challenging innovative responses, and highlighting some weaknesses and shortcomings in both the pre- and post-event stages. All of Florida’s public transportation systems were impacted to some degree by these storm events. Before time passes and the events fade from individual memories, it is important to examine and assess the Florida transit industry’s reaction to the storm events to determine what worked and what was unsuccessful, to measure the adequacy of the emergency planning efforts, to document “lessons learned,” and most importantly to make recommendations to better prepare for future emergency events. View full report.

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