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City staff, mayor receive high praise for hurricane efforts

By Staff | Oct 11, 2017

The City of Sanibel received many high remarks about its communication efforts before, during and after Hurricane Irma at the Tuesday, Oct. 3 meeting.

Sanibel resident Claudia Burns spoke during public comment to recognize city staff and the city council for their phenomenal communication and caring during the recent Hurricane Irma emergency.

“I really think that our staff and our council deserves a standing ovation,” Burns said, which was followed by a round of applause.

The City of Sanibel is holding an event Oct. 27 to help raise funds for employees affected by Hurricane Irma.

Mayor Kevin Ruane said he is working with Richard Johnson and the Community House to have a gathering, a fundraising activity.

“As many people may, or may not know, so many people were affected by the storm, but our city staff had people that lost their homes, or parts of their homes because they were protecting us,” he said, adding that one of their employees only had what he was carrying in his backpack.

Although the event is still being finalized, Ruane said he hopes to work with businesses while finalizing plans. He said they want to do what they can to help members of their staff that put their community first, rather than having the luxury of staying home and protecting their home.

Ruane said he cannot thank the city manager and directors enough for what they did.

“We spoke frequently, and often and it was trying at times,” he said. “Probably the person I would give the most accolades to outside that you wouldn’t think of is Governor Rick Scott. The phone calls we had with the League of Mayors and just around the clock communication with whatever we needed and whenever we needed it, it was just unbelievable. You called his staff and he did everything he could possibly do in hurricane recovery. I cannot thank his staff and everything he did to make this so much easier for us.”

Ruane said he hopes they can gain some momentum of everyone working together and keep on this track.

Vice Mayor Mick Denham said Ruane and City Manager Judie Zimmora did an outstanding job during and before the crisis.

“Not just in their leadership, but in the most important communication with our citizens,” Denham said.

Councilman Chauncey Goss began by thanking God for letting Irma take a little jog in its path.

“There’s nothing more disconcerting than waking up and having Al Roker and Jim Cantore setting up a half a mile from your house,” Goss said.

He thanked the staff for their incredible hard work and Burns for asking for a standing ovation because they deserved the recognition and more.

“Every decision that was made by the mayor, or the council, the city manager, the public works director, the police chief was made for one reason, two words, one reason, and that is public safety,” Goss said. “They did an incredible job.”

Councilman Jim Jennings commented on how hard the city manager worked during the storm.

“She had two cell phones, one in each ear, and she was talking to me,” he said. “It was just amazing.”

Councilman Jason Maughan said as a citizen he wanted to share how terribly proud they all were of the city manager, mayor and city staff.

“They were available around the clock,” he said. “I can speak from experience that if there was an issue that arose and the city manager was available at any hour, day or night, which is a rare quality.”

Maughan said it was the highest quality services they received from all of their directors and their staff.

“They have my undying gratitude as a citizen,” he said.