UF/IFAS Extension Service Responds To Hurricane Charley

Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281

Charles Vavrina csv@ifas.ufl.edu, 239-658-3400
Carol Lehtola CJLehtola@ifas.ufl.edu, 352-392-1864 ext. 223

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—In the wake of the nation’s second most expensive hurricane — loss estimates may exceed $25 billion — state and federal agencies are scrambling to help residents in Hurricane Charley’s southwest-to-northeast swath across Florida.

“With extension offices in all 67 Florida counties, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is making the vast resources of the university available to residents in hard-hit counties,” said Charles Vavrina, extension district director at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.

Vavrina, who is coordinating extension recovery efforts in South Florida, said county extension faculty in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee and other counties are working to get their damaged offices back in operation. They’re also providing residents with information on various types of aid and other services available, including information on food and water, feed for animals, and insurance claims as well as disposal of rotting food, controlling mosquitoes in standing water and preventing mold in structures that are without air conditioning.

Topping the list of extension resources available to residents is The Disaster Handbook, a comprehensive document that provides detailed information on all aspects of hurricane preparedness and recovery.

“Available online at http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/, the handbook was produced by UF/IFAS. The university also works with the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), a consortium of extension disaster experts from 45 states and Puerto Rico,” said Carol Lehtola, an extension safety and health specialist in Gainesville. She also is extension’s point person for the UF/IFAS Disaster Information Program and Florida’s primary contact for EDEN.

As residents begin to recover from Hurricane Charley, injuries from chain saws and misuse of other equipment are common. In fact, three deaths have occurred from carbon monoxide poisoning when generators were used indoors, she said. To learn about avoiding accidents, Lehtola recommends checking the UF/IFAS Agricultural Safety Web site at http://www.flagsafe.ufl.edu/.

Next week, new public service announcements (PSAs) for radio stations can be downloaded from UF’s http://www.radiosource.net Web site, she said.

Vavrina said another online resource is UF/IFAS extension’s Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) that provides information and educational materials in English and Spanish on many topics, ranging from agriculture and natural resources to food safety, consumer credit counseling, and child and family stress. Hurricane disaster information is available on the EDIS Web site, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/, by searching for hurricane recovery, flood recovery and wind recovery.

In addition, he said the UF/IFAS Broward County Extension Service maintains a comprehensive Web site on hurricane preparedness that’s available at http://broward.ifas.ufl.edu/.

In the planning stage is a new State Agricultural Response Team (SART), an interagency program to respond to future emergencies and disasters in the state. SART, which will become operational early next year, involves experts at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Department of Community Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the UF/IFAS Extension Service.

In addition to helping establish response teams in each county, SART will identify county resources available for an emergency or disaster, promote cooperation between state and county agencies, and train personnel to respond to emergencies or disasters such as hurricanes.



Posted: August 20, 2004

Category: UF/IFAS

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