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Applied Politics Master’s Students Host Hurricane Forum

July 19, 2019

Students from Florida State University’s Master in Applied American Politics and Policy (MAAPP) program hosted local officials from across the Big Bend area at a public forum to discuss the impacts of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall along the northern Florida Gulf Coast as a Category 5 in October 2018.

The forum, held July 18 at the Historic Capitol Museum, was moderated by Capitol Reporter and FSU MAAPP alumnus Troy Kinsey from Bay News 9. Panelists included Florida Rep. Jason Shoaf (R-District 7), Commissioner Scott Hoffman (Port St. Joe, Group IV), Port St. Joe Police Chief Matt Herring, and Chief Meteorologist Mike McCall from WCTV Tallahassee.

In addition to discussing ongoing recovery efforts from Michael, the forum also focused on what residents can do to best prepare for the current hurricane season.

“I’m encouraging local residents to remain proactive this season and make emergency plans now,” said the newly elected Shoaf. “We want citizens to know that you don’t have to wait until a hurricane forms to start getting prepared.”

Shoaf pointed out the resources available now on the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s website that can help families and businesses with organizing critical emergency plans. His district includes some of the counties that were severely affected by the storm and borders on Bay County, where Michael struck the hardest.

“I know the kind of devastation these storms can cause to a region,” he said.

The event was organized by graduate students in the MAAPP course on earned media taught by Adam Montgomery. The program, under the direction of Professor of Political Science Robert Crew, fosters civic engagement and trains students in applied and practical skills for careers of public service, policy, and politics.

“Our goal in organizing this event was to help the local community learn what local resources are available and what they can do in advance to be safe in future storms,” said Jim Spearing, a student in this year’s course. “We hoped that they could feel confident in the efforts of their local leaders who are trying their best to keep people safe after the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael last year.”

MAAPP student LaQuisha Persak (right) introduces the panel assembled to talk about hurricane preparedness.