Power continues to be restored, debris pickup begins
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Mayor Kevin Ruane has been working with city staff around the clock, both at City Hall and out in the field to make sure the “fluid situation” continues to make progress.
Ruane said they are simultaneously working on different fronts – completely restoring power and picking up debris.
As of Monday afternoon, he said 96 percent of the island’s power has been restored. The city began asking the community to call City Hall if they were without power at their home, so it could be directly communicated with LCEC. Those who do not have power can call (239) 472-3700.
Ruane said obviously not all 575 residences without power have contacted them, but they are making progress working with all levels of employees of LCEC, including the CEO.
At peak, he said they probably had more than 60 people working to restore power. Currently, as some areas are still being troubleshooted, there are a couple dozen still on island.
“Some have come from as far as Georgia,” Ruane said. “Gas was the biggest issue. We couldn’t get people here because of gas.”
Nightly conversations with Governor Rick Scott have resulted in getting those resources to the island. Ruane said when the third port opened, the availability of gas seemed to improve.
He said they are housing LCEC folks at the island’s resorts, at their expense, so they do not have to leave the island at the end of the day. In addition, Ruane said they have worked with the community to find different places to house their trucks.
Monday, debris pickup started in the heaviest areas. Ruane said they are removing the heavy volumes where they think the debris is in the way, blocking public view on the main artery roads, such as Periwinkle Way. He said they will break down the debris collection into five zones of what they have accomplished to let the community know of the progress.
“The debris is going to be massive. There is debris all over the place. We are moving that as quickly as possible off island. We are doing the best we can in mobilizing it,” Ruane said.
The efforts by staff, he said have been great. Ruane has worked side-by-side with the City Manager morning, noon and night. With the City Council giving the mayor authority to make decisions, Ruane has had the ability to keep the efforts flowing.