ADA Compliance
The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact: Will Franke, Building Official, Phn: 904.825.1065, Fax: 904.209.4335, Email: wfranke@citystaug.com; or Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: tgrant@citystaug.com. You may also write either of these contacts at City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.

Consumer Confidence Report
The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing clean and safe drinking water. For the previous year's sampling results please click here. To notify the city regarding water treatment concerns contact: Patrick Timoney, Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, Phn: 904.825.1044, Fax: 904.823-2280, Email: ptimoney@citystaug.com; or woperators@citystaug.com, or write the City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.

The St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center at full force as Hurricane Frances makes its way across Florida.

County’s EOC is a Model of Emergency Response

by George Gardner, Mayor

Three things occurred to me almost immediately as Frances' storm bands lashed our area, and trees toppled, taking with them power to three-quarters of St. Johns County.

First, we were re-introduced to the days before television. I picked up a John Grisham novel and actually read for enjoyment for the first time in years. Secondly, we got a serious taste of what a full hurricane impact could be. And finally, we may have gained more believers in our faith-driven protection from hurricanes.

Our city was established 439 years ago September 8, with help from a hurricane. We've had the protection of the Hurricane Lady since the early 1800s, and serious hurricane threats have been avoided since 1965, when the great cross was erected at our mission grounds.

Faith is a strong force, but we also have today a highly trained and organized county emergency operations center, coordinating with our city emergency team and prepared for any event.

This was my first full indoctrination to our St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center, as I alternated between the county facility, frequent meetings of our city emergency team, and my home computer for twice-daily email updates to a broadcast list - until I went dark and off-line Sunday afternoon.

Most of us don't even know where EOC is located, much less what it actually does.

It is located adjacent to the sheriff’s facility at the complex of St. Johns County office buildings. The operations begin with a big circular table and a bank of more than a dozen manned telephones-the public information center. Calls to 824.5550 hit these phones, automatically routed to free lines. From this center, calls can be forwarded to any of 18 Emergency Support Functions, ranging from public works, roads, fire and rescue to animal control and business. Four more large tables are manned with personnel for these services, all in a single great room operational 24/7 during an event.

Computers scattered about the room track the storm and updates, two giant screens carry television coverage and state EOC updates, and a speaker system conveys urgent reports from Emergency Management Director Ray Ashton and EOC Coordinator Linda Stoughton. Regular conference calls with the state and threatened county EOCs follow updates from the National Hurricane Center.

Charley and Frances gave EOC something its regular mock training events couldn't: real time testing of its efficiency, awareness of needs, and planning for even more efficient response.

Examples: traffic lights out and driver reeducation that state law makes such intersections four-way stops; the lack of pet-friendly shelters; a call for sand bags; and an assessment of needs for gas-driven generators to keep water supply up, sewage lift stations functioning, and to temporarily operate traffic signals at major intersections.

Our city emergency team worked hand in glove with the county EOC, sharing resources and coordinating event and recovery efforts. In our city, a plan was in place ahead of time to divide the city into four quadrants and augment our 15-member solid waste crew with up to 125 more city workers, front-end loaders and trucks to clear debris from our neighborhoods.

We learned that there's a psychology of citizens with ever increasing frayed nerves as power outs continue, streets are blocked, and people want to get out to survey damage.

We consider ourselves lucky that Frances did not hit us directly. We are lucky, too, that we have both county and city emergency teams who are models for the way to respond; who, I am confident, would have been up to it if Frances had hit with full impact.

I encourage you to visit the St. Johns County Department of Emergency Management Web site now and bookmark it for future refrence.

 

< Return Home