Hurricane Irma was a huge storm, but local governments were well prepared and the challenges were mostly manageable. As ICMA President Lee Feldman, city manager, Fort Lauderdale, put it, “Local government had its chance to shine and it did.” The images we see tell part of the story – the widespread destruction in the Florida Keys will be the most difficult to address. In most parts of the state, the primary challenges are power outages, some flooding, debris damage, FEMA documentation, and clean up. Local government managers and their staff are exhausted, yet relieved that they were able to keep people safe during this marathon storm.
In Tampa, the city and county are in full recovery mode. Hillsborough County had 28,000 people in shelters during the event and has begun transitioning most of them back to their homes or other temporary shelters.
ICMA Southeast Regional Director Randy Reid reports that Irma was a Category One when she passed over Gainesville and Alachua County, leaving power outages and trees toppling. Flooding continued to be an issue as Irma moved north to Jacksonville and Georgia.
Like Texas, the places that suffered major damage will be in recovery mode for weeks, if not years, to come.
In Florida, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FEDM) is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and partnering with the American Red Cross to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. To volunteer, go to www.volunteerflorida.org or call 1-800-FL-Help-1. This source, National Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster, is also a very good one for volunteer information across the U.S.
These storms are a painful reminder of the importance of preparation and to help your community recover after a disaster. Here are some resources available from ICMA:
- Attend or view on demand at a later time a free webinar that features expert advice on Navigating the Disaster Recovery Process.
- Here are some tips on managing volunteers from ICMA’s Emergency Management: Principles and Practice for Local Government e-book coordinating volunteers
- A compelling case study from the city of Central, Louisiana documenting tips to follow before, during, and after a disaster. You can find additional, substantial resources on the IBTS website.
- These seven resources are focused on preparedness and recovery and can all be found, along with related content, in our emergencies and disasters topic area.