More Than 1,500 Brevard County Employees Help Shelter Residents During Hurricane Irma
By Brevard County // September 30, 2017
staffed 21 storm shelters opened for evacuees
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County government employees were on the front line as Hurricane Irma barreled through Brevard County, packing strong and sustained tropical storm force winds and hurricane gusts, and dumping more than 15 inches of rain in a 12-hour period.
More than 1,500 Brevard County employees were involved in the pre-storm preparation, response and recovery efforts for Irma.
Many were activated in Emergency Support Function roles at the Emergency Operations Center in Rockledge, others staffed the 21 storm shelters the County opened for evacuees, and others were stationed at consolidated and relocated fire stations, four different wastewater treatment plants and Road & Bridge facilities to quickly respond in the wake of a hurricane that impacted every square mile of the county.
The EOC activation included not just County employees, but Commissioners and their staffs, representatives from the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, area faith-based and charitable organizations like United Way, 2-1-1 Brevard and Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, and local liaisons for Florida Highway Patrol, FDOT, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and more.
These employees and volunteers worked through the storm event and provided essential services prior, during and after Irma continued its trek to the north, and their efforts did not go unnoticed:
• “In such a difficult situation you all supported others first,” was one review submitted on a hand-written letter at the Viera Regional Community Center.
• “Chris” and his miniature Schnauzer found more than just safe haven at Ted Whitlock Community Center: “From the minute I arrived until the time I went home I saw so many acts of commitment and compassion. The entire operation was so well run I could not help but marvel at the forethought that must have gone into the planning of a pet friendly shelter.”
• “Shout out to Brevard EOC for outstanding communications during Hurricane Irma and after,” was among the hundreds of complimentary comments posted on Twitter.
• And on Facebook, still more: “Great source of constantly updating pertinent information during Hurricane Irma and after. Dispelled rumors and helped keep the community calm under stressful situations. Thank you for your tireless work.”
County Manager Frank Abbate commended County employees for their dedication, hard work and for the professionalism shown through a challenging period.
“This was a collective effort that not only reflected the sacrifices our employees will make for their community, but also the great relationships our County has forged with emergency response agencies, the state, cities and their leadership, and with other organizations who all worked together with a single purpose in mind: The safety and wellbeing of our residents,” Abbate said.
Brevard Board of County Commissioners Chairman Curt Smith, who had his first experience at the EOC during a hurricane activation, also weighed in with a glowing critique:
“I was thoroughly impressed with everyone in the room, and with the dedication and professionalism exhibited.”
Smith also recognized the sacrifice that employees made by working through the storm while leaving their own families to weather the event on their own.
Hurricane Irma moved into Brevard County late morning on Sept. 10. The 15 inches of rain was more than half as much rain in a 12-hour period, than Tropical Storm Fay’s 27 inches in a 72-hour period in 2008.
Based on initial damage assessments, FEMA has already notified Brevard County Emergency Management that the county qualifies for Individual Assistance. That means homeowners, renters and business owners may qualify for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damages and losses resulting from Hurricane Irma.
There’s much more work to be done, however, especially in terms of recovery. Homes were destroyed or damaged by a confirmed six tornadoes; hundreds of homes were flooded or water damaged; and thousands of residents were left without power or water service, or both.
The recovery from Irma will take months and require a multi-faceted and coordinated effort among many emergency response agencies.
“It takes a cooperative effort from a lot of people and agencies to coordinate the response to a large-scale emergency like a hurricane,” said Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser. “It is a complex undertaking, and touches the community on many different levels.”
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