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Lee County receives national recognition for Irma

By Staff | Mar 28, 2018

Lee County government has received a national award for its work before, during and after Hurricane Irma.

Lee County officials accepted the 2018 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement Award on Wednesday at the NHC Conference at the Hilton Orlando Hotel. The award recognizes the county for serving as a model for other organizations in its handling of hurricane-related activities.

NHC officials recognized Lee County’s achievement in hurricane-related preparedness in past years as well as 2017, including legislation, public awareness programs, financing mechanisms, sheltering plans, engineering research, warning notification systems and prediction techniques.

“The key word for this award is innovation. We’re looking for individuals or organizations who are doing things in a new or better way and who are worthy of emulation by others around the country. The award is not for someone who is simply doing his or her job well,” the NHC said in a statement.

Accepting the award on behalf of the county was Emergency Management Director Lee Mayfield, Public Safety Director Ben Abes and Assistant County Manager Christine Brady.

“It takes the whole community to respond and recover effectively,” Mayfield said. “No one entity can do it all. Public and private sectors, nonprofits and most importantly the individual citizen and family. Irma was unprecedented in its size and threat, and it was not your ‘typical’ hurricane.”

Under the direction of the Lee Board of County Commissioners, the Department of Public Safety/Emergency Operations Center, in coordination with municipalities and partner agencies, coordinated the response to Irma one of the largest hurricanes in Southwest Florida’s history. Irma hit Lee County on Sept. 10, 2017.

Earlier this month, Mayfield and the county received state recognition for Irma-related efforts. The Florida Emergency Preparedness Association invited Mayfield to Tallahassee and presented him with the Chad Reed Emergency Manager of the Year Award, which is awarded to those who show excellence in their profession.

During Irma, more than 100 individuals worked in the EOC, providing support to responders in the field and determining protective actions, including evacuations and sheltering operations. Based on the significant threat from Irma, about 300,000 people in Lee County were ordered to evacuate, prompting the largest sheltering operation the county’s history about 35,000 individuals in 14 shelters. This was the largest of any of Florida’s 67 counties. The county also sheltered about 3,550 pets of evacuees. There was no loss of life.

After response operations came to a close, recovery from Hurricane Irma began.

Long-Term Recovery efforts continue today by leveraging partnerships with agencies such as the United Way and many other human services agencies throughout Lee County. Contractors and Solid Waste workers have collected 1.75 million cubic yards of horticultural waste and nearly 67,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris. The county has undertaken an effort, in coordination with partners, to remove impediments from waterways to reduce future flooding.

Source: Lee County