Three weeks after Hurricane Irma skimmed South Florida, clean up and recovery efforts are still underway in Boca Raton, but planning for the aftermath began long before the Emergency Operations Center opened. Generators were staged, contracts were in place and City crews and staff were ready to be deployed the moment it was safe to be on the roads.
Because of a detailed and efficient emergency plan, dedicated staff, and engaged residents, we were able to clear roads, begin traffic management, start repairing traffic lights and fix water line breaks immediately. While the power outages and downed power lines impacted our efforts in some road clearing, the City was open for business- on generator power- within days after the storm passed. Facilities, parks, programs and services have resumed, and debris pick is underway.
Contracted debris haulers have just completed a “first pass” through the City. Every neighborhood has had at least some pick up of storm related debris at this point. There’s plenty more to get, and trucks will make two more complete passes through the City to ensure that all storm related debris is hauled away. The City’s temporary debris site has piles 50 feet tall in some places, and crews continue to work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day.
Special thanks to our residents for complying with the curfews that were set, for following the four way stop rule at busy intersections with no traffic signals, for staying in touch with us through social media and calling the Citizen Information Center (CIC) hotline to report downed trees and powerlines, for being patient as the debris clean up continues and for being good neighbors to one another through a stressful time. With over 3,000 calls to the CIC, staff and volunteers provided lifesaving support and direction to our residents on issues ranging from evacuations to gas stations and stores that were open for business. Unique to Boca Raton, the CIC is a vital resource that provides a human connection throughout the storm.
Irma turned out to be a very expensive inconvenience for South Florida, sparing our area much of the devastation we’ve seen elsewhere, but it’s not over yet. Hurricane season ends November 30, so keep working on your plans and preparations. If you haven’t signed up for Code Red and other alerts from the City, please be sure to do so now to stay connected before, during and after a storm at www.myboca.us. We welcome your questions and feedback about Irma recovery efforts at the Community Advisory Panel Town Hall Forum at 6:30 PM on October 18 at the Downtown Library.
For FEMA assistance, individuals can still apply at www.disasterassistance.gov.