National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read is to kick off an annual Hurricane Preparedness Workshop for the Tourism & Business Industry 1 pm on Thursday, May 20, at the Marathon Government Center, located at mile marker 48.5 Gulf side, in Marathon.

Read, who is entering his third hurricane season at the nation’s top hurricane warning official, is to deliver a presentation entitled “The National Hurricane Center… The Road Ahead.” He also plans to present the hurricane center’s forecast for the 2010 Atlantic basin season.

Other scheduled presenters and topics include attorney Patrick DeBlasio III, “Which Way is the Law Blowing? Untangling Legal Obligations in the Employment Relationship;” Sandra McQuinn, a hospitality insurance executive, “Hurricane Preparedness – Insurance Risk Management;” and Andy Newman, the county tourism council’s media relations director, “Protecting Lives and the Economy in the Florida Keys.”

The half-day conference is to conclude with a panel discussion featuring county officials involved in the decision-making process regarding visitor and resident evacuations for the county. The dialogue will explore the National Hurricane Center’s current examination of increasing their five-day warning forecast protocol to seven days.

Scheduled panelists include Mayor Sylvia Murphy, County Administrator Roman Gastesi, Monroe Sheriff Bob Peryam, Monroe County Emergency Management Administrator Jerry O’Cathey and Director of Monroe County Airports Peter Horton. Jonathan Rizzo, warning coordinator meteorologist of the Key West National Weather Service, is also to participate to discuss how his office interfaces with county and municipal emergency managers.

“How evacuation decisions are made are among the most questions asked when it comes to hurricane planning in the Keys,” said Jodi Weinhofer, President of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West, the conference’s organizing body. “We should have all who are responsible for those decisions tell us how they are accomplished.”

Cost for the conference is $10 per person and reservations can be made by calling the Lodging Association at (305) 296-4959 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Although the conference is geared to tourism-related businesses in the Keys, it is open to the business community and anyone can register.


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