Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Preparation Pays Off

COASTAL COMMENTS

 

 

Just a short column to tell you how Collier County prepares for a hurricane each and every year, and this year it paid off big time! In about February the County Commission votes to accept locations identified to “store” storm debris for pickup if a hurricane happens, and make arrangements with the owners of the locations to accept this debris. Then they hire an engineering firm to assess what is being picked up at each stop regarding volume, weight, contents, etc. This must be done if the County wants to apply for FEMA funds to help cover the cost of clearing debris and hauling. The reimbursement usually arrives a few years later. They also make arrangements for a hauling company to remove this storm debris and take it to an out-ofcounty location for disposal. During the time that the funds need to be expended to pay for this cleanup, the County must pay the companies who do the work for us up front, so the County puts aside emergency funds in the millions to be used for this purpose. In order for FEMA to reimburse the County, a state of emergency needs to be declared and accepted by the BCC before the storm arrives. Meanwhile, all facilities and maintenance are kept in good condition so we do not have to worry about that during the storm.

The Emergency Operations Center was built to protect all of Collier County, and it has places in there for each division of emergency operations. Each city has a place for their people, the 911 function is located in the EOC, and there are places for families of the emergency operations corps to stay safely while their family members are out there working for you. The communication system in that place is so amazing I can hardly describe it in words. There is a place for reporters so they can keep up with minute-by-minute happenings and get that news to you immediately. The EOC is very secure and has immense backup generators to handle the load. Government employees that must be on duty are allowed to stay on the main campus of the government center so they can participate in their function for you. Many times I hear people saying, “We don’t get our fair share of return on our tax dollars,” but people just do not know what goes on behind the scenes for their benefit. Soon I’ll be able to tell you about some of the heroes who worked during the hurricane for you. Right now everyone is concentrating on bringing life back to normal as quickly as possible. It is amazing to see how well we did, considering the immense size of this storm and the wind velocity involved. Yes, we have cleanup to do, and repairs, etc. But, we had no loss of lives and no major structural damage to buildings. Homes were damaged in some cases, but really, we have a lot to be thankful for…especially all of our emergency personnel in all capacities! We have truly been blessed.

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