Rosalind Campion portrait

Rosalind Campion

Counsellor for Global Issues

Part of Stay Ahead of the Games UK in USA

9th August 2012 Washington DC, USA

Life’s a breeze at the Olympics and in Florida

As a Londoner, I have to admit that sometimes Londoners can be cynical. As we left for the US last November, we left our friends muttering about anticipated congestion and transport angst and plans to let out their houses to Olympic-crazed tourists and spend the month in Florida.

However, from the moment the fabulous opening ceremony kicked off (which I watched with several hundred close US friends at the Embassy in Washington) our friends’ plans to hit the beach were immediately discarded. These same friends who’d planned to leave have caught Olympic fever, along with the rest of the country, and my social media streams are crammed with photos of them grinning in the stadium, watching the marathon from their apartment windows, and close ups of our Team GB athletes doing rather well on the medal podium.

The only beach they were interested in was the beach volleyball court in central London.

Nevertheless, despite Olympic-fever it can’t be denied that British people are still heading over to Florida in droves. Around 28,000 Brits go to Florida each week at this time of year – lured by better temperatures, cheaper airfares and, of course, Disney – despite the fact that it’s hurricane season. And so it was that, as a member of the Embassy’s Crisis Management Board I headed over to the National Hurricane Center to meet its relatively newly appointed director Rick Knabb, with the Consul for Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

We talked about the particular challenges of hurricanes for tourists. I guess the real point is that British tourists, coming from a not very hurricane-prone country, tend to underestimate the risks. Being a tourist makes you less likely to find out a hurricane is coming. While locals will hear of it on the radio or TV, or from local friends, tourists risk failing to notice the fuss. And once you’ve noticed, you’re much less likely to have a plan of where to go and when.

The same could be said for newly-arrived diplomats. I admit to a few weekends when I’d called friends to make dinner plans, only to find they’d been listening to the local radio and planned to spend their evening in their basements, sheltering from major storms I hadn’t even clocked.

Of course, relying on TV and radio for storm warnings is so last century. I now have my social media feeds set to alert me to this sort of thing. Rick Knabb is similarly enthusiastic about social media. I’d seen his personal Twitter feed before the meeting and had been impressed by both the quality and frequency of his tweets.

In fact, I must confess to suspecting he had a team tweeting on his behalf without admitting to it – so passé. But having met him, my doubts were squashed. He runs a 21st century operation, and his innovative and dedicated personal use of Twitter to communicate about weather risk is inspiring – follow him if you are headed Florida way: @NHC_DrRickKnabb.

We might enjoy reading Tweets about Britain being swept off its feet by Andy Murray’s Olympic victory, but it’s also good to know if we’re at risk of being swept off our feet by a hurricane.

About Rosalind Campion

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science,…

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science, innovation and transport.

Originally a corporate lawyer working in London on intellectual property issues, Roz was most recently with the Ministry of Justice, where she set up and ran the Sentencing Council, the national organisation responsible for ensuring a consistent approach to criminal sentencing by the UK’s judiciary.

She has previous experience working on foreign policy issues, including during her time at the Ministry of Justice, as well as through her work with the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and as a lawyer working on international law cases for a top human rights litigation firm.

During her time in academia, Roz was responsible for the public international law programme at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, where she specialised in international trade and environment law.

She lives in Georgetown with her partner, Dr Layla McCay.

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