Palm Coast - When a storm impacts Palm Coast, the City's efforts are focused on making sure cleanup and recovery efforts begin as safely and expediently as possible.

Palm Coast's First-Push Team is comprised of firefighters and public works crews and is staged at each fire station in the City. These teams encounter downed power lines, fallen trees and obstructed roads in situations where there may be little to no light or access. Their goal is to create cleared paths for emergency response and access. In an effort to ensure their safety, the City is being proactive and offering it's first-ever chainsaw safety class.

"This is a learning experience where multiple departments are working together for a common cause," Palm Coast Fire Chief Jerry Forte said. "It's a good refresher for all of those departments that are engaged in chainsaw operations as part of their job description. We emphasize safe practices and that response after a storm is effective and efficient."   

City employees from Utility, Stormwater, Fire and Public Works are taking part in the chainsaw class, which is the first-ever training of this kind for the City as part of FEMA training and involves a collective group of workers within the City. The class is a 2-part session where the first session is classroom based where they learn about the equipment, trouble-shooting, cutting concepts and maintenance. The second part is hands-on.

Many City departments and crews actively train and prepare for major weather events each year. Stormwater crews also perform maintenance year round to help keep canals, ditches, and water control structures in shape. When a storm approaches, the level of threat and type of storm determine their response. By keeping the entire system maintained and operational crews are, in effect, constantly doing storm preparation. 

In the meantime, there are a few other initiatives in the City that are new this year for storm preparedness.

  • Palm Coast Fire Department Captain Thomas Ascone is now certified to coordinate emergency management operations for the City of Palm Coast under the guidance and partnership of Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord.
  • This is the first year AlertPalmCoast (part of AlertFlagler) will be available, which is the no-cost service that allows subscribers to sign up for a variety of emergency notifications based on their enrolled address. This is part of an update to the City Emergency Management Plan which outlines policies and procedures for how we handle emergencies before, during and after a storm or other disaster.
  • Four smart manholes now have remote monitoring equipment installed in order to detect excessive flows in the gravity sewer system before overflows can occur.
  • Three additional wastewater pump stations are equipped with remote monitoring equipment for early warning of pump failure or high flow conditions.
  • 305,000 feet of gravity sewer pipe was tested for leaks and 20,000 feet of gravity sewer pipe was upgraded with new lining to prevent leaks into the sanitary sewer system.

This is also the first year where Palm Coast Connect will be available to residents and a valuable tool for the City during the cleanup process. Palm Coast Connect is a platform that allows residents to report an issue or concern - any time or place. Residents are more engaged and kept more up-to-date through this tool on when and how their concern is handled as they can track how it's addressed every step of the way through completion. During and after a storm, examples of concerns reported to Palm Coast Connect would be downed trees, impassable roads, localized flooding, and pep tank alarms. Palm Coast Connect is online at www.palmcoastconnect.com - and the free app is now available in both the Apple and Google Play App Stores. Palm Coast Connect is not a substitute for 9-1-1.

"I'm proud of our team's commitment to storm readiness and their proactive nature to be trained and prepared at all times," Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland said. "All of these measures strengthen our ability to provide the best response to our residents."