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Volusia County’s search for a new emergency management director led all the way to Monroe County and the home of the Florida Keys — where they know a thing or two about storm response and emergency preparedness.

On April 20, the County Council confirmed Helene Wetherington, disaster recovery director for Monroe County, as Volusia’s next emergency management director. Her start date is May 17.

Wetherington replaces former Emergency Management Director Jim Judge, who retired in January. Since his departure, Public Protection Director Joe Pozzo has been running the department.

Wetherington brings more than 20 years of expertise to the job in local, state, federal and international emergency preparedness, planning, response and recovery. She has been the disaster recovery director for Monroe County since 2018, where she has been coordinating long-term recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Prior to that, Wetherington’s experience includes serving as assistant director of the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management, a planner with the Florida Coastal Management Program, area coordinator and community assistance consultant for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and emergency management services director for Calvin, Giordano & Associates Inc.

Between 2014 and 2016, she served as the disaster management adviser to the Caribbean Overseas Territories for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“We’re very lucky to have attracted such a great candidate,” County Manager George Recktenwald said in bringing his choice of Wetherington to the council for confirmation.

The incoming director has been an instructor of FEMA courses and for various educational institutions, and is certified as an emergency manager by the International Association of Emergency Managers and as an assessor for the national Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

Wetherington, who holds dual master’s degrees in public administration from Florida Atlantic University and planning from Florida State University, told the council that she’s excited for the opportunity to build on Volusia County’s well-regarded emergency management program.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to pick up on this program and hopefully enhance it in some areas,” Wetherington said. “I hope we can build a stronger, better and safer Volusia County.”

“Thank you, and welcome,” County Chair Jeff Brower told Wetherington moments after her confirmation was approved. “We’re glad you’re here.”

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