Leaders from Florida’s 67 counties will learn about a buzzword this week: resilience.
"It’s about understanding your neighbors, that their shortfalls may become your problem, and their assets may also be a solution to your problem," said State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, organizer of a panel on resilience at this week's Florida Association of Counties meeting in Orlando.
Jacobs said one goal is to talk with county leaders and state Department of Environment Secretary Noah Valenstein about collaborative solutions to common challenges, including hurricane evacuations.
"Shelters are built to accommodate the amount of people that live in their county," she said, but "in Irma, the entire state basically picked up and moved to another county," leading to traffic jams, volunteer shortages and issues sheltering elderly and disabled Floridians.
Jacobs, who represents parts of northwestern Broward County, says it's time for a statewide look at how to adapt Florida's drinking water system, power grid and highways to challenges like hurricanes and sea-level rise.
"We may not have thought together about what happens when the next utility doesn’t have enough water or wastewater, when saltwater intrudes in their potable water supply and now they need to reach further inland," she said.
She said she's also hoping to help counties with fewer staff learn about opportunities for funding from the state and federal government for resilience efforts.