By Andrea Freygang
With summer here in Pompano Beach, the city looks to Kimberly Spill to make sure the city is ready for any emergency, hurricanes included. Spill is the city’s Emergency Manager and oversees emergency management for Pompano. While hurricanes are a major focus, that is only a part of what she does. Spill is also currently taking a master’s program in security studies at Nova Postgraduate School through a scholarship from Homeland Security, a prestigious program that only lets 50 students in a year. She is also chairperson for the Broward Emergency Coordinating Council, a group of all the emergency managers and stakeholders in the community come that together to discuss issues monthly and make recommendations to the county administration.
Pompano Today recently sat down with Spill and asked her a few questions about her job with the city.
What is the focus of your job?
“My job in the city is to make sure that the city and all of its employees and the community are prepared,” said Spill. “There’s a number of things we do. My intent is to make sure all our employees have their individual emergency plans for their department that we exercise together. We spend three days at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) training going through our plans and working together which is key.”
How did you get started in emergency management?
I have been with Pompano since April 2, 2007. I started working for FEMA in 2004 when all the storms happened. Prior to that, I was an IT consultant I was a volunteer in emergency management after training in CERT and was hired by FEMA as a temporary disaster employee. My first gig was Hurricane Ivan and I decided I could never go back to what I used to do. I worked in Deerfield Beach first as an emergency coordinator before offered a major promotion to emergency manager in Pompano, and while I love Deerfield (she lives there!), it was a huge opportunity.
Why did you get involved with emergency management?
Honestly, the biggest thing is I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives in something that matter and something that contributed. I really feel what I do here—and it’s a lot less than I use to make –I love it and it’s a passion.
What are some of your key responsibilities?
We have to always maintain the plan and keep going—it’s more difficult in times like this when you haven’t been hit with a disaster in six years. We’re working with less now and people have difficulty finding time, but it’s important to make sure we’re prepared because disaster could strike tomorrow and it goes beyond hurricanes—it’s how we deal with hurricanes, pandemics, severe weather, a large hazardous spill. We try to preach all hazards but we get attention in hurricane season. One of my key responsibilities is to make sure the city is able to recoup from its losses financially and to work with FEMA and the state as much as possible. We’re just closing out projects from Wilma now. When there’s an emergency, we have to document everything from picking up debris to putting on a tarp– it all has to be documented, so it’s critical we have a process in place to document those costs.
What are some upcoming projects related to disaster preparedness?
We are working on retrofitting all the buildings to make sure we have hurricane protection. We are adding generators to all the civic centers. This year, Skolnick, Emma Lou and Larkins Centers will get generators and others are planned for next year in a phase approach. We need to get the community prepared though because people are getting really complacent because they have bigger issues on their place—they are dealing with the economy and its hard to worry about batteries when you are worried about your next meal or paying your mortgage. There are cost effective ways that people can prepare that don’t cost too much money.
What do you recommend?
Take advantage of Buy 1 Get 1 deals like at Publix and stock up. Get on the gas lines early. Have cash in small bills handy so it’s easier to make change at the store after the storm. Freeze some water and have basics like bread and butter handy with pop-top cans. Special needs –anyone with special health considerations needs to plan in advance by registering with the county. And don’t forget pets when doing your hurricane planning. We send owners at Sand & Spurs reminders what they can do for large animals.
What else can you add?
We have a partnership agreement with FPL to stage in our city in an east and west location, putting them closer to us so we get p and running faster. We gave them part of the airport and worked an agreement with the racetrack at Isle Casino. I’m also available for community presentations. We also have a CERT program, with over 1,000 trained. To learn about the CERT class, or have your questions about preparedness answered, you can reach Spill at 954-545-7799 or .
Pompano Beach Code Red Notifications
Sign up now to receive emergency notifications. Registration online is simple, quick, and free. Just follow the instructions by clicking here. Or download the form by clicking here and send it to: Public Communications Department, PO Drawer 1300, Pompano Beach, Florida 33061 or fax the completed form to 954.786.4504. You can also visit http://www.mypompanobeach.org/emergency/index.html.
Broward County’s Home Damage Assessment assists in quickly identifying areas of devastation, even before damage assessment teams are able to canvass the County. It’s easy and a great service to the community! You may even want to pre-program the link in your cell phone ahead of time.
The Home Damage Assessment Program asks residents to report hurricane damage to their home as soon as it is safe to go outside by calling 3-1-1 or logging on to the Broward County Hurricane website and clicking on the “Home Damage Assessment Program.”
Here’s how it works:
- Before the storm, print the Home Damage Assessment photos and keep them handy for reference.
- After the storm passes and it’s safe to go outdoors, survey the damage to your home.
- Compare your home to the four homes pictured on the page you printed out, and select the one that best represents the condition of your home for damage level and/or flood level. It doesn’t matter if you live in a single family home, condo, townhouse, apartment, duplex or mobile home.
- Call the Broward County Hurricane Hotline at 3-1-1 to phone in a damage assessment report. If you still have power and access to the Internet, return to this page and click on the Report Your Damage below.
- You will be asked to provide your street address, city and zip code, and the number of the picture that best represents the level of damage to your home.
Remember, you must have access to the photos to make a report, as Hurricane Hotline call takers will only be able to accept numbers “1-4” as damage levels and “5-6” for flood levels.
Resident reports will provide a critical early indication of where major damage has occurred. These reports do not constitute a request for individual assistance and do not replace the normal grid-by-grid assessments performed by County assessment teams.