Storm zone collar program nominated for national awards
PUNTA GORDA — The Charlotte County Emergency Management Office has been nominated for two national awards for its program to mark stop signs with colored collars to help residents know their storm surge zone.
American City and County Magazine nominated the office for the magazine’s Crown Communities Award for Public Safety, and a national expert on hurricane evacuations nominated it for an award to be presented at the National Hurricane Conference set for March 2013 in New Orleans, according to Wayne Sallade, county emergency management director.
“We haven’t gotten any word on whether we’ve won, but just being considered is just a great honor,” he said Thursday.
The magazine will publish an article in December about the county’s program if it’s selected as the winner, Sallade said. He added he’d welcome the chance to spread the word about his Know Your Zone collar program.
Sallade previously spoke about it at the 2012 hurricane conference in Orlando. After that talk, many officials requested more information. Sallade said he wound up mentoring county officials in Georgia and South Carolina on how to start up such a program.
Under the program, Sallade’s office purchased some 10,000 reflective vinyl collars in five colors, one for each flood zone. Red and yellow are the most vulnerable zones.
Sallade’s office rounded up volunteers to install them on some 9,400 stop signs throughout the county. Some 600 of the collars remain in storage because Punta Gorda opted not to allow them within the city.
Sallade said Hurricane Isaac, which slammed New Orleans with a 14-foot surge in August, illustrated the need for collars. Many residents ignored storm surge warnings, he said.