Getting a community back up and running after a natural disaster is no easy task, and for that reason, businesses and residents vital to the recovery process will now have two unique options for gaining early re-entry after future disasters.
Monroe County Emergency Management has come up with a placard program for businesses and their employees, and the Monroe Emergency Reserve Corps program for residents.
“We’re calling this the 90-percent solution. We wanted to come out with a solution quickly, and you can poke some holes in this because it’s not the perfect plan, but it’s much, much better than we had before,” said Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt. “We wanted to roll out something for this hurricane season and the plan is the way it is.”
These are some frequently asked questions, answered by county spokeswoman Cammy Clark and Senterfitt.
Who is eligible?
• Businesses/Organizations: The Placard Re-entry Program is new this year, and businesses (like grocery stores and banks) or organizations believing they have an essential response mission can apply for inclusion in the Placard Program through Emergency Management. Businesses apply at www.monroecountyem.com/placardprogram. Applying for placards isn’t an automatic “yes.” Applications undergo review by Emergency Management and only those business/organizations that can show their employees are essential to recovery and that the business/organization has a plan on how to take care of those employees in the direct aftermath of a storm will receive the placards.
• Residents: Individual volunteers who want to come in early, and who are not considered emergency workers for their employer or organizations, need to go through CERT training to be eligible for the placard. Senterfitt said the first round of 35 trainers have been trained and the course has been compressed to include an online course and then 16 hours of classroom time. He said the online course takes about 4 hours. Upcoming dates for training will be announced in early July. Volunteering residents apply at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/volunteermonroe.
How long is the “yellow ticket” good for?
The 2018 placard is good for 2018 only. The organization/business must renew each year by going through the same application process. People only have to go through the major CERT training one time, but to renew their placard, they must go through a refresher training course each year to learn new information about the county’s emergency management plans for that particular year.
When should a business pass out placards to employees?
Businesses/organizations will be given their allotment of placards in advance, but they should not be given out to individuals until a storm is brewing.
Are there background checks on individuals applying?
Not at this time
Do you do anything to verify businesses can support their own employees?
Emergency Management will review the business/organization’s plan and decide if it appears appropriate for a disaster.
Do window sticker decals still work?
Re-entry windshield stickers remain in place for residents and business owners by zones and get people into certain areas before the return of visitors and people who do not live in the Keys. These stickers do not get residents in early, like the placards do for emergency workers.
How long will it take for a person to go through the classes; when do they get the ticket?
Businesses do not have to go through training classes. They have to fill out an application. Only individual volunteers who want to come in early, and are not considered emergency workers for their employer or organizations, need to go through the CERT training to be eligible to get the placard.
How long will it take a business to get the placard?
Once Emergency Management receives the application, review will take place within 21 days. If approved, the business/organization can pick up the placard at any point after the approval at the Emergency Management office in Marathon.
It’s one placard per car, but what if I have my kids/spouse with me?
The placards are only for employees whose employer/organization has a plan and means to take care of those workers during a disaster. That being said, if the employee brings in a spouse or children they must also be able to take care of them in a disaster situation — which in most cases is not a good situation for kids due to limited medical services, lack of air conditioning, etc.
What is the first thing an emergency worker should do?
It depends. But in all cases the emergency worker should coordinate with his/her employer or organization in advance to know where they will be housed, get food and what they will be doing for the recovery. For public safety, every person who is able to help in the recovery multiplies the capability of the recovery.