Florida experiences more severe weather than the dozen of hurricanes that come through the summer and fall. In the early months of 2016, Florida experienced tornadoes, high winds that damaged over 60 homes, and hailstorms, all before the summer months. The new emergency management director of Pasco County in Florida, Kevin Guthrie, had to deal with the fall out of a tornado and wind damage immediately after moving into the county for his new job.
Guthrie was clearly experienced at emergency management from the moment he arrived in Pasco County, having brought with him more than 10 years of various experiences in public safety and emergency preparedness.
During a severe weather event on March 24, 2016, severe winds whipped through Pasco Country, reaching 60 miles per hour. That storm spread from the coast of Texas all the way along the Gulf coast, even down to Southern Florida, causing flooding in some areas. In Pasco County, Guthrie immediately began working to deploy emergency staff, reassign public workers to debris pickup, maintain weather updates with the National Weather Service, and act as a calming resource for Pasco Country residents.
The reason Guthrie was able to work so efficiently during the March 24 storm is that he had seen how the El Niña weather pattern would develop over Florida, helping him to stay prepared for the eventual severe weather event.
Moving into hurricane season, which officially starts on the first of June, Guthrie is working on public education opportunities about hurricane safety and preparedness. At the annual Pasco County Hurricane Expo, Guthrie and other emergency officials hosted over a thousand residents to show them proper preparedness techniques. Guthrie’s team showed off new drones they would be using to aid in search and rescue once hurricane season starts, as well as helped special needs residents get their names in evacuation assistance registries should the need arise.