The Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds in Robstown played host to the 2014 Coastal Bend Hurricane Conference, held on Wednesday, May 7 and Thursday, May 8. The fourth annual conference, sponsored by the Coastal Bend Emergency Management Association and hosted by Nueces County, covered a full array of topics, with the intent of educating county and city responders in the case of impact from a major hurricane, and the actions needed to be taken in the wake of such a disaster.

"When we came together a handful of years ago, what we wanted to do was provide a quality training and networking opportunity in our community. There's a lot of statewide conferences, and they're great, but a lot of our people don't have the opportunity to go," said Nueces County Emergency Management Coordinator Danielle Hale. "We wanted to give more depth and knowledge here locally."

During the two-day educational conference, state and nationally recognized speakers and presenters passed on first-hand knowledge to more than 600 attendees, with information specific to hurricanes from crisis communications, dealing with donations during a disaster, healthcare during a disaster, dealing with livestock during a disaster, and analysis from the latest weather prediction models.

"There's just a full, broad spectrum so that anybody can come here, whether they just got told they're now in charge of a hurricane plan and had never read it before, to our senior and tenured emergency management professionals," Hale said. "I don't suspect I'm going to teach any of our professionals anything here, but they're meeting 600 people from our network. The education is important, but the networking and meeting new people is just as important."

The Nueces County and Coastal Bend Emergency Management Associations are looking to again have the conference at the fairgrounds in 2015. Over the past four years, the conference has grown larger than most statewide conferences, and is looking to bigger and grander things for the next one.

"We are looking having the conference again at the Fairgrounds again next year. The city of Robstown has been an excellent host. The fairgrounds is a great venue for a regional conference like this. We wouldn't be able to it at another facility, because it wouldn't be cost-effective for the attendee. We can't not charge a registration fee, because somebody has to be able to pay for the travel of our guests, the speakers, food, and things like that," said Hale. "But we're offering two full days of education for $35. You can't get that anywhere else."