May 31, 2018
Japanese government officials, civil engineers and college professors learn about Jacksonville's response and recovery to Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma last year
Director of Emergency Preparedness Steve Woodard makes introductions with members of a Japanese delegation that traveled to Jacksonville to learn about best practices in disaster management, especially hurricanes and massive flooding.

From Japan to Jacksonville – Delegation visits City of Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness Division

Many of us would just as soon forget the last two hurricane seasons, but members of the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism delegation and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently visited the City of Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness Division to meet with the staff and learn about the City’s programs, plans, and response to Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma. The connection to Jacksonville came about thanks to one of the Army Corps of Engineers members being active in the Corps’ Pacific Ocean Division which includes projects in Japan and Korea.
The delegation included a variety of high-level administrators from Japan’s water and disaster management bureau, college professors from Japanese universities, and civil engineers. Steve Woodard, Director of Emergency Preparedness, and Assistant Chief Todd Smith, Deputy Director of Emergency Preparedness, presented to the delegation the details of both hurricanes’ impacts to Jacksonville in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Through an interpreter, the Japanese visitors learned about emergency declarations, evacuation orders, as well as response and recovery efforts, which involve the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Also during the delegation’s visit, Woodard and Smith introduced the members to the complexities of evacuation zones for the largest land mass city in the United States.  The Emergency Preparedness Division’s Public Education Program emphasizes to the public the importance of knowing their evacuation zone, building an emergency kit, and having a plan.
Tokyo and many other major Japanese cities are in below-sea-level regions, so flooding is a concern as are best practices for evacuation. The delegation expressed appreciation for this opportunity and plans to apply many aspects from the discussion.