Gretchen Smith, Flagler County Chamber of Commerce
Living through a natural disaster like Hurricane Matthew reminded employees of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce about the important role our organization plays before, during and after a hurricane.
Preparation for the storm began with a call to action from Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center, which mobilized leaders, groups and organizations throughout the county. Conference calls were scheduled twice daily to update community partners and ask them to spread information to their respective audiences. Our chamber utilized multiple communications channels to continually update our 750 member businesses about evacuation plans, emergency shelters, forecasts and other disaster-related information before and as the storm made landfall.
After the storm, our communications role continued. With electricity but without Internet access or main telephone service, staff returned to the Chamber headquarters and began checking in with our members. In the days that followed, we used our personal cell phones to try to reach as many members as we could to offer our support and service. Most seemed genuinely appreciative to hear from us and many shared stories of how they’d fared during the storm. Others had issues they needed to address immediately and we helped expedite those requests as best we could.
In the coming days, weeks and months, our businesses and residents will continue to need support, and as a result, we are working on grant and funding opportunities to assist our most-impacted members. Challenges still exist but our community is stronger having experienced this disaster. We are grateful for our government partners and dedicated staff, elected officials, clubs, organizations, residents and neighbors who all rallied to help one another. We are proud to report that the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is #FlaglerStrong.