Keys Tourism Council Helps Emergency Management With Visitor Safety If
KEY WEST, Florida Keys--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 1, 1999--The Monroe County
(Florida Keys) Tourist Development Council (TDC) has developed a unique
relationship with the Keys Emergency Management office to assist efforts in
evacuating visitors in the event of an approaching hurricane.
The program, successfully tested in September 1998 prior to Hurricane
Georges impacting the Lower Keys and Key West, involves several
communications links to most Keys accommodation offerings, transportation
companies and area media to provide advance warnings in the event an
evacuation is ordered.
In the Keys, visitors and other nonresidents are the first groups of
people asked to leave as part of the area's hurricane plan.
The TDC also helps to survey and communicate exit transportation options
for visitors; provides a toll-free, multilingual visitor help line and
provides staff support for the emergency management office before, during and
after a storm.
"Typically, many tourism offices bury their heads in the sand and hope
to God a hurricane doesn't hit them," said Harold Wheeler, the TDC's
marketing director. "But we realize that hurricanes are a reality and we've
taken steps to help Keys Emergency Management officials deal with the task of
temporarily closing the destination if a storm threatens.
"We want visitors to be comfortable when visiting the Keys, even during
hurricane season, and make them aware the tourism council is concerned for
their safety," Wheeler said.
Monroe County Emergency Management Director Billy Wagner lauded the
TDC's assistance and support.
"They provided a tremendous service during Hurricane Georges and
combined with a cooperative tourism industry, helped to avoid loss of life
and minimize injuries," said Wagner, emphasizing there was not a single death
directly related the storm. "The TDC's post-storm efforts also helped the
Keys achieve a speedy economic recovery."
Hurricane season began Tuesday, June 1, peaks in September and
officially concludes November 30.
Stuart Newman Associates, Miami
Andy Newman, 305/461-3300 or 1-800-ASK-KEYS
Monroe County Emergency Management
Billy Wagner, 305/289-6018
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