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Lee County agencies plan for post-storm recovery

By Staff | Sep 10, 2017

The Lee County Emergency Operations Center held its Sunday morning briefing to outline plans for post-hurricane recovery.

Tony Schall of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said the barrier islands are reaching 35 and 38 mph winds. Emergency services will stop responding when winds reach 40 mph.

“We’re keeping an eye on 40 mph benchmark,” Schall said.

He said winds are likely to hit that mark by noon today. Once that happens, those who have remained in their homes will be on their own until the storm subsides.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking everyone to secure boats and other lightweight vessels as they are likely to be picked up by the wind or get loose and float away. James Drzymala of the Sheriff’s Office also recommended writing your phone number on the boat with a permanent marker.

When the storm moves away from the area and it is safe, Schall said the Sheriff’s Office will deploy three helicopters for both search and rescue and a survey of the damage.

County Manager Roger Desjarlais emphasized the importance of those last-minute evacuations due to the threat of storm surge.

“Those people in the evacuation zones must seek shelter,” Desjarlais said. “These surges can be deadly.”

After the storm, Lee County will be sending out its heavy equipment to begin clearing roads and assessing damage. The fire districts will follow for urban search and rescue missions.

Cliff Smith of the United Way said the storm hotline, 211, continues to take calls. This is the phone number you can call for questions about the storm, conditions or to get help. The United Way will connect callers to the agency that can help them. People can also call 433-3900. Both of these numbers will be available after the storm.

District 27 Florida Senator, Liz Benacquisto, also attended the briefing to voice her support for the work at the Lee EOC and local agencies and to emphasize she and Dane Eagle, Florida House Representative District 77, will be helping to pull resources from the state and human services nonprofits.

She also warned people to wait until they get an all clear from local authorities before venturing outside.

“The storm surge will come after the winds. Wait to hear the all clear,” she said.

“That will be the time people will be at most risk, when they will think it’s okay to go out.”

Lee Mayfield, Lee County Emergency Management, said the Lee EOC is using Sunday to plan its immediate and longer-term post-storm response, from clearing the roads to mass feeding and finding housing for those displaced from the storm. About 30,000 people and 1,700 pets have checked into the public shelters.

“We encourage everyone to be patient. Cooperate with everyone at the shelters, cooperate with everyone after the storm, be a good neighbor,” Drzymala said.