On April 3rd-6th, 2023, Nicole Johnson, Policy Advisor of Infrastructure and a member of the crisis communications team along with Travis Johnson, Harbor Master attended the 2023 National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, LA, where disaster response and preparedness experts gathered to discuss the latest developments in the field. Representatives from Bonaire, St. Maarten, and Curacao were also in attendance.
Throughout the conference, attendees took part in an expo with the latest services and goods; attended lectures and workshops covering a range of topics including forecasting, meteorology, flood mitigation strategies, storm surge, emergency response planning, and the use of technology to improve disaster preparedness and response. “Attending these conferences gives Saba and other islands the opportunity to broaden their knowledge on hurricanes, build networks with experts as well as other islands, and share our local issues as it pertains to hurricanes” stated Travis Johnson.
For Nicole Johnson and Travis Johnson, the conference highlighted the importance of proactive planning and robust communication systems, but also provided some new information and resources, such as the National Hurricane Center increasing its 5-day forecast cone to a 7-day forecast cone and introducing new types of worksheets and databases that are available to aid the crisis team on Saba.
Experts at the conference stressed the importance of investing in infrastructure upgrades and modernization to better prepare communities to withstand the impacts of major hurricanes and other natural disasters. This notion was further emphasized during the USVI lectures about the recovery process after major storms like Irma in 2017. “I found it really interesting to listen to the USVI lectures talk about infrastructure of key locations like hospitals, schools, shelters and how they [USVI] are dealing with it, the rebuilding, but also what they did in the meantime, and how they worked with their national government when it came to assistance” explains Nicole Johnson.
Overall, the 2023 National Hurricane Conference served as an invaluable platform for current information on hurricane preparedness and response and provided a forum that is key to ensuring the resilience of communities in the face of future natural disasters. “We are all in this battle with hurricanes together” commented Travis Johnson.