Annual hurricane conference offering diversity
April 16, 2012 at 5 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.
The annual MidCoast Hurricane Conference is taking a broader approach to dealing with all kinds of disasters.
Three tracks each with four distinct sessions and two general sessions are available for not only first responders, but also business owners and homeowners.
The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 26 at the Victoria Community Center. Pre-registration deadline is Friday.
"We went from four separate speaking sessions to 12," said John Johnston, vice-chairman of the board of the Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross, who served on the conference planning committee. "This year the committee decided we would do something more diverse.
"We wanted to include the business community, homeowners and other citizens, so we could target those groups with some training on preparedness, recovery from disaster and general disaster awareness.
"The conference has always focused on hurricanes, but this last summer with all the house fires and wildfires, the committee decided to transition into an all-disaster type conference, never forgetting the intent of why we developed at first."
That diversity includes the keynote presentation by Trey Duhon, Waller County public information officer.
Duhon will talk on how the county used social media during the 10-day Riley Road wildfire in September that burned more than 10,000 acres in Waller County. He is expected to be joined in the presentation by his wife Jennifer Duhon via Skype from Switzerland.
"We thought it would be interesting to hear how other communities are using social media to get the word out during a disaster," Johnston said. "They used it to let people know what areas were closed, when they re-opened and what resources were needed where. It should be an interesting session."
The Duhons will speak during the barbecue lunch session, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The final session of the day will also include all track attendees as John Metz of the National Weather Service will give his annual report.
Johnston emphasized that although the conference has added some diverse offerings, organizers have not forgotten its roots when representatives from the nearby chemical plants and other industries met to coordinate disaster preparedness with area first responders.
"They wanted to ensure that not only could they get into their plants to shut them down and to get them back up and running, but also to protect them from the potential of a secondary disaster," Johnston said. "We've built on that foundation."