Our mission is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the people of Osceola County through a comprehensive, all hazards emergency management system of prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
Learn about the Osceola County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, approved by the Board of County Commissioners in November 2012, by clicking here.
Message from the Director
Welcome to your Osceola County, Florida Emergency Management Website. As the Director of Emergency Management for Osceola County, I have the privilege and responsibility to work with Emergency Management staff and many great partners across the county and the state to develop and maintain a world-class emergency management program for Osceola County.
Since 1979, with the establishment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), World War I era Civil Defense has become known as Emergency Management. The concept for handling all disasters, both natural and manmade and their consequences is called Comprehensive Emergency Management. Osceola County has built a robust Comprehensive Emergency Management Program over the years, and the program continues to evolve as the demographics and dynamics of our community and the threats that we face evolve.
The goal of Emergency Management is to save lives, prevent injuries, and to protect property and the environment if an emergency occurs. Our mission includes the development and coordination of the County's whole community approach to Emergency Management, enabling effective preparation for efficient response and recovery from all hazards that face our community in order to save lives, reduce human suffering and economic loss. To accomplish this, the Office of Emergency Management:
- Develops plans and procedures to ensure the highest levels of mitigation, planning, preparedness, response and recovery
- Organizes staff, communities, volunteers and business efforts prior to, during and after a disaster. Equips first responders and community response teams with tools and equipment that may be needed to respond to and recover from a disaster
- Maintains a comprehensive, risk-based, multi-hazard emergency management training program
- Conducts a variety of exercises designed to evaluate and improve the county and our partner’s ability to respond and recover from a disaster
Emergency Management planning begins with you and your family, starting at home, preparing for all types of disasters. I would encourage you to use this website to help prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.
On this site you will find many useful links and information that explain how you can become better prepared in case of a disaster, be it an act of nature or a man-made incident. Please use the information provided to come up with a plan for yourself and your family.
Also, consider signing up for our Alert Osceola reverse 911 and emergency text/email system at Alertosceola.org. Alert Osceola is an emergency notification system that notifies people’s home telephones with emergency information. By updating your information to include your cell phone number and your email, you can receive messages via those methods as well.
We have many goals and projects for the future to further our preparedness levels and to engage the whole community in building and maintaining a resilient community. If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered on this website please feel free to contact me at Stephen.Watts@osceola.org or 407-742-9000.
Stephen Watts, Director
Osceola County Emergency Management
The Osceola County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has three (3) basic levels of activation:
LEVEL 3: Monitoring Activation - The EOC is staffed by emergency management personnel and the communications staff who monitor conditions. Notification is made to selected staff who need to take action as part of their everyday responsibilities. The EOC is at level 3 under normal conditions.
LEVEL 2: Elevated Activation - Elevated Activation - All emergency management staff are notified. The EOC will be staffed by emergency management personnel, necessary support staff and outside agencies as required to meet the operational needs of the incident.
LEVEL 1: Full Activation - All primary and support agencies are notified. The county EOC is staffed by emergency management personnel, and all necessary emergency support functions will be conducted, as well as the Executive Policy Group.
Osceola County operates according to the National Incident Management System (NIMS). We organize and manage all incidents, emergencies and disasters by this method. Typically, emergency operations centers organize by emergency support functions (ESF’s) with a coordinating agency responsible for reporting activity within the ESF. Osceola County has 18 organized support functions and as such, span of control is significantly exceeded.
To effectively manage these coordinating functions, Osceola County Emergency Management integrates the support functions within the Incident Command System (ICS) maximizing the benefits of an effective management tool. The use of the ICS within the Emergency Operations Center coupled with a multijurisdictional/agency Executive Policy Group, Osceola County manages any emergencies and disasters with clear direction, excellent and effective planning all while minimizing duplication of efforts.
The Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) provides the foundation for all activity within the Office of Emergency Management and is updated every four years. The CEMP includes emergency operations and contains the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Operations Guide as a specific annex. The overall program is built on the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment providing a quantitative analysis updated every year with a major revision every five years. To learn more, click here.
Top 10 Hazards
Tropical Cyclones - According to the National Hurricane Center, a tropical cyclone is an organized rotating system of thunderstorms originating over tropical or subtropical waters with a closed low-level circulation and a warm core. The strength of the tropical cyclone results in the various classifications, including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. Tropical cyclones involve both atmospheric and hydrologic characteristics, such as severe winds, storm surge, flooding, high waves, erosion, extreme rainfall, thunderstorms, lightning, and in many cases, tornadoes.
Flooding - A flood occurs when typically dry areas experience a temporary overflow of water, which exceeds the volume capacity, thereby threatening damage or harm to the community. Flooding can occur at any time of the year, with peak times occurring during early spring through the fall. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides an official Flood Insurance Rate Map delineating the geography-based level of flood risk to the County every ten years. These map revisions contain areas of high-risk flood potential known as Special Flood Hazard Areas.
Tornado - A tornado is a violent and destructive rotating column of air usually exhibited as a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cumulonimbus cloud in contact with the ground. Tornadoes vary is shape and size, but are often visualized as a condensation funnel where the narrow end touches the earth and is frequently encircled by a debris cloud. According to the National Weather Service, most Florida tornadoes have wind speeds between 40 mph and 110 mph, are approximately 250 feet across, and travel a short distance before dissipating. Some tornadoes can attain 300 mph winds, a mile in diameter, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles. The average duration of a tornado in the state of Florida is eight to fifteen minutes.
Wildfire - A wildfire is an uncontrolled, rapidly spreading fire in grasslands, brush-lands, or forested areas. Wildfires occur as a result of either natural phenomenon such as climate, vegetation, lightning or human activities. Wildfires are more prone to occur between November and April, when cool cold fronts are prominent, bringing in cold dry air. Eighty percent of Osceola County's landscape is rural, undeveloped and covered by natural vegetation. Wildfires are increasingly more dangerous over recent years.
Terrorism - Terrorism is defined as any violent or destructive acts committed by individuals or groups aimed at intimidating a population, people or government to accept or met their demands. The purpose of a terror event is to create fear while promoting an ideological goal. The Central Florida region recognizes that terrorism is both foreign and domestic. Certain domestic ideological groups exist in Osceola County as well the region. Each poses a threat to the County as well as the region. The consequences of any terror incident are significant and every method of mitigation should be employed to reduce the effects.
Severe Thunderstorm - Severe thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Osceola County. The National Weather Service defines severe thunderstorms as occurring as a single storm, in clusters or lines, consisting of heavy rain and lighting, and producing large hail, 1-inch in diameter (quarter size) or greater, strong wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, or tornadoes. Lightning is a phenomenon present in all thunderstorms and is sometimes characterized as a separate hazard. Florida is the lightning capital of North America and is generally attributed to the subtropical climate.
Pandemic - Pandemic is the widespread propagation of a contagious disease in the human population. Further, it means extending beyond regional boundaries including across continents. Generally, a pandemic is an epidemic spreading to the far reaches of the globe. In considering pandemic, many diseases are capable of reaching this threshold. Most notable are the influenza viruses because they mutate so rapidly and are easily spread amongst humans. A simple sneeze can spread the influenza virus resulting in contamination for more than one person.
Agricultural/ Livestock Disease - From livestock to citrus to honeybees, Osceola County farms a wide variety of agricultural products. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Osceola has over 547,058 acres of land in farm production, nearly 60% of the County’s land area, including cattle, sod, citrus, peach, blueberry, vegetable and bee farming. There are currently over 365 operational farms in Osceola County, 233 of which (64%) manage livestock operations, the remainder produce crops.
Hazmat Release - A hazardous material (HAZMAT) is any item or agent (biological, chemical, and physical) which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, by itself or through interaction with other factors. Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are others, including service stations, hospitals, and hazardous materials waste sites. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released from transportation accidents or because of chemical plant accidents. There is a recent phenomenon known as chemical suicide whereby the subject mixes two household chemicals together in an enclosed space, such as a vehicle. These incidents have rapid effective results and pose a threat to responders.
Sinkhole - Sinkholes are natural depressions in the surface of the earth caused by the removal of soil or bedrock, often both, by water. Sinkholes vary in diameter, volume and composition from less than a few feet to hundreds, even thousands of feet. The size may vary in diameter and depth, including sidewall consistency ranging from smooth soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms.
Now you can download the booklet anytime!
Due to the popularity of the Emergency Management Preparedness Quick Tips Booklets, Emergency Management has made them available on its website for download.
For information on everything from NOAA weather radios to having a family disaster plan and what supplies to always have on hand, this is booklet is full of potentially life-saving information.
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