Meet the City’s Emergency Manager, Jevon Graham
pandemic turned our
world upside down,
and an important team
of city leaders helped see us through
it. One of those people is Jevon Graham,
fire division chief and 21-year city employee, who
serves as the city’s emergency manager. He is the face behind
the command, and he coordinates the city’s emergency
response to COVID-19, hurricanes and other large-scale
Tough decisions and swift actions were made, sometimes
quickly, to protect city employees and the community. It’s
Graham’s job to make those tough decisions and coordinate
with other agencies to manage the city’s response.
“I’m the liaison between the city, county and state
governments to mitigate the emergency,” he said.
A lot of what Graham does is internal coordination among
departments and staff. The emergency manager reports to
the emergency director, city manager Bill Horne. He works
with the city’s senior leadership, city council, and department
directors and managers to coordinate city needs. Managing
the COVID-19 pandemic proved intense, Graham said.
“It was extremely busy and difficult in the beginning to try to
deal with this. We haven’t had to deal with a pandemic of this
scale in 100 years. We were starting from scratch,” he said.
“The whole strategy from the very beginning was how we
can protect the city staff and the community,” he said.
“Decisions were made about when to shut down city
services, what kind of personal protective equipment was
needed for staff, and when to begin reopening. Every
decision truly was made to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
Graham said this is definitely not a one-person operation; it’s
an entire city effort.
“It was a lot of hours, a lot of weeks, seven days a week,
10-15 hours a day. There would be phone calls at 7 a.m. and
work all the way up to meetings at 10 or 11 p.m. The core
decision makers would work up to 70- to 80-hour work
weeks, making hard decisions,” he said
He warned COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re going to have more COVID-19 cases; that’s a fact.
Until there is a vaccine, this is going to be ongoing,” he said.
“If you use baseball terms and look at the common cold,
we’re in the ninth inning. For COVID-19, we’re in the