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Lakeshore HS graduate working for FEMA in TX talks Harvey/Irma

AUSTIN, Tex. -- JD Boesch is a Lakeshore High School graduate who works with local and state leaders to decide when communities should evacuate for storms.

On Saturday, Boesch spoke with ABC57’s Taylor Popielarz over FaceTime from Austin, Texas, where he is currently stationed for FEMA as post-Harvey recovery continues.

“As far as the enormity of the disaster, I don’t think the nation has seen a disaster of this type,” Boesch said. “Particularly when it comes to the number of households impacted.”

Boesch, a Coast Guard veteran, joined FEMA in 2011.

He graduated from Lakeshore High School in Stevensville in the late 1990s.

That’s where he met his wife, who is the daughter of well-known St. Joe parking enforcement officer Buzz Holmes.

Boesch is a hurricane program manager.

He’s working non-stop in Texas right now, focusing on finding victims of Harvey secure housing in the coming months.

But Boesch said the science behind evacuation orders is something he and his colleagues work on year-round, before hurricanes are even in the forecast.

“We work with local jurisdictions on a rotational basis to do a multi-year study on different metropolitan areas,” he said. “And the results of the study, essentially, are to determine – or do our best estimate – of what we can think the time frame would be, from the point of calling evacuation – between that time frame – and when everyone can self-evacuate from the area.”

Boesch said those studies were used in parts of Texas as Harvey struck, and now similar studies are being used to determine what parts of Florida need to evacuate for Irma.

He said the destruction in Texas is just one example of why it’s important to listen to evacuation orders, which he said are extremely calculated and not given lightly.

“Emergency managers are very cognizant of the risks that they put their constituents [in] when they make that order,” Boesch said. “So I ask that you follow them.”

Boesch and his family live in Texas full time now.

He said he’s had just one day off since Harvey formed around August 21.

Boesch said whether you live in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or something else, you should always trust that an evacuation order means a storm is serious.

If you'd like some tips to help prepare for a storm, Boesch recommends visiting ready.gov

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