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Preparing for the big one


Scott B. Clark, risk and benefits officer for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, plans well ahead given that models have shown a Category 5 hurricane could leave the district with as much as $1 billion in damage.

In time for the upcoming storm season, Miami-Dade schools will activate a system that will enable district personnel to do online damage assessments. The system will allow staff at each school to quickly assess damage, with the guidance of a checklist, and send that information to the district's command center via their electronic communications devices.

This will enable officials to determine which facilities can reopen after a storm, he said.

The next planning step is determining how to quickly repair damage and pay for it. While the public school system is eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to reimburse overtime expenses, debris removal and damage caused by hurricanes, the funds often take time to materialize.

Since the school district is self-insuring $25 million in windstorm risk before insurance comes into play, Mr. Clark and his staff are working on identifying funding mechanisms such as short-term loans or catastrophe bonds so that the district can begin repairs immediately after a storm.