Palm Coast - The City of Palm Coast activated its Emergency Operations Center at Fire Station 25 today in response to an escalating drought index as wildfire season rapidly approaches. The City already has an EOC active to handle response for COVID-19.
While the City contends with the effects of COVID-19, it remains cognizant of other unavoidable events that can have a dramatic impact on Palm Coast in the coming weeks and months.
There has been a lack of rain and elevated drought index that continues to rise.
"Wildfires present a year-round challenge to the Palm Coast Fire Department and this is especially true this year," said Fire Chief Jerry Forte. "There has been little to no rain in most areas of Palm Coast since January. These next several weeks are critical for determining operational needs for our response to wildfires."
At 450 points on the KBDI, the Palm Coast Fire Department will add staff to daytime hours when the relative humidity is low and winds are expected to be high. At 500 points, personnel will be added each day during peak hours of concern for forecasted weather events. At this point, a "No Open Burning" policy will be adopted regionally and additional operational changes will be considered.
The Palm Coast Fire Department Command will meet later this week to review current wildfire plans and develop ideas for new challenges. They will also be reaching out to Flagler Beach and Flagler County partners to discuss regional response. Capt. Randy Holmes will coordinate wildfire response for the City of Palm Coast and be the point of contact for the City's regional partners.
Additionally, hurricane season is set to begin in June and AccuWeather published its forecast this week predicting higher activity than normal. The average count is considered to be 12 tropical storms, 6 becoming hurricanes and 3 becoming major hurricanes (12-6-3). AccuWeather is projecting 14-18 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, with 2-4 becoming major hurricanes.
With these challenges on the horizon, the City of Palm Coast is preparing itself for all possible scenarios and will continue to elevate its response to match the conditions.