By Brad Stager

Winter in Florida may offer a respite from the hurricane season routine of days spent boarding up windows and clearing debris, but for the Hillsborough County Citizen Corps Council (CCC), every day is a day to prepare for a potential disaster.

Underscoring that emphasis on readiness is a series of public meetings to acquaint Hillsborough County residents, businesses and organizations with the council, which is part of a nationwide initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The federal agency is partnering with local governments and organizations as a way to support the work of emergency responders and help mitigate the effects of a natural or man-made disaster on a community.

Attendees can find out about opportunities to volunteer with an organization partnering with the council that can use their knowledge and talents, or even provide training in emergency-handling skills. According to FEMA’s website, the idea is to promote a community’s self-sufficiency and provide basic support in a disaster until government aid arrives.

Among the programs the council partners with are local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) of FEMA, which educate people about disaster readiness and provides training in areas such as first aid and rescue operations, as well as the federal agency’s Fire Corps, a collaboration between FEMA and the National Volunteer Fire Council supporting local fire and rescue departments. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) uses volunteers to support the local emergency response medical community.

William Twaite is Hillsborough County’s liaison with the CCC and he encourages people to attend the meetings.

“You can see what kinds of opportunities are available to learn and contribute.”

Twaite adds that the council is interested in resources that local organizations, such as amateur radio clubs and neighborhood associations, might offer during an emergency.

“The council facilitates all kinds of groups that want to come together to learn something and prepare for all kinds of disaster mitigation and recovery.”

The meetings, including the next one on Wednesday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m., take place at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex (PSOC) at 9450 E. Columbus Dr. in Tampa.

For more information, call 276-8245 or visit https://hillsboroughcounty.org.