This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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Admittedly, I was one of the evacuees from last week’s weather event. A family wedding in New Jersey took Yvonne and I away and Mother Nature prevented us from returning. Since returning on Friday evening and touring throughout our city, kudo are extended to the City Manager and staff for what is an incredible effort to return our city back to some sort of normalcy….Thank you…
Arguably, FPL might have gotten power back to the entire city faster than experienced and arguably we dodged a bullet with not experiencing the full force and fury of IRMA but with that said, City Staff has done and is doing an incredible job. BocaWatch extends its congratulations to those individuals that acted in the community’s best interest even while having to weather (pardon the pun) their own personal circumstances….Outstanding!!!
Al Zucaro, Publisher
P.S. Below are some excerpts from the comments received from City Staff and from county commissioner Steven Abrams that are thought to helpful and worthy of republishing in a highlighted manner. I trust you agree….Al Zucaro
What a week it’s been! The projected Category 4 or 5 Hurricane Irma that was forecasted to hit our county veered further west at the last minute and we were spared a major catastrophe! What we experienced was a tropical storm with Category 1 wind gusts. The majority of the damage that has been reported was power outages, lack of working traffic lights (due to power outages), and downed trees and yard debris.
Because of Hurricane Irma, Florida experienced the largest evacuation in U.S. history.
I would like to thank all of our first responders, emergency managers and county staff who have worked tirelessly around the clock for over a week. Their dedication and commitment to keeping everyone informed and safe is truly admirable. The coordination between local, state and federal agencies is a massive undertaking. I am proud to work with such a terrific group of people!
As most of you know, the most challenging problem is the loss of power, especially with the oppressively high temperatures. The county remains in constant contact with FP&L officials. They are working diligently to restore power, and to date have restored over 60 percent of the power to those who lost it. FP&L anticipates that all service will be restored to east coast residents by the end of this weekend. An army of crews from all over the country are visible countywide working with FP&L.
I spent the first few days after the storm travelling throughout my district and checking in with city managers and elected officials. I also visited a number of beaches in South County and was glad to see that they have experienced minimal erosion. If you want to read more on my travels, follow me on Facebook.
· The countywide curfew has been suspended
· Twenty-four percent of the county’s cellphone towers are currently inoperable. Providers have resources in the area working on the problem
· The airport has been open since Tuesday with limited operations. Check with individual airlines for more information
· Palm Tran has resumed all normal bus service except for Palm Tran routes 41 and 94. For more information, visit Palm Tran’s website
· All public schools are closed, and classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, 9/18.
· The Board of County Commissioners meeting scheduled for 9/12 has been rescheduled for 9/26.
· Yard trash and garbage pickup varies throughout the county based on where you live (municipality or unincorporated county). Check local municipal websites or http://www.swa.org/ for unincorporated. Please be patient with yard and tree debris which may take longer for pickup.
Individuals who suffered damage can make claims online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Based on current assessments, the county has estimated approximately $19 million dollars in damages so far.
Insurance Fraud Alert
The Consumer Protection Coalition offered tips to protect consumers against fraud:
· Call your insurance company first to report losses
· Hire only licensed, reputable insurance companies and be wary of strangers who call or know on your door asking for personal information
· Review all documents before signing, and ask questions so you know exactly what you are signing. Ask who is responsible for paying the vendor – you or the insurance company.
Helping Our Neighbors
It goes without saying that it is extremely important to help each other during times like this! Almost immediately after the storm, Palm Beach County and Delray Beach Fire Rescue deployed 16 firefighters to assist the Islamorada Fire Rescue in their hurricane recovery efforts. The strike team consisted of four engines from the county and one from Delray Beach. We should be very proud of their selfless service and that we have the resources to help our neighbors to the south!
Currently, fire rescue personnel are conducting welfare checks at nursing homes countywide.
In addition to looking after my constituents’ needs as a Palm Beach County Commissioner during these past days, I have been working diligently with South Florida Regional Transportation Authority staff, as chairman, to get Tri-Rail back up and running.
Our system was greatly degraded by Hurricane Irma. We serve 3 counties, including Miami-Dade, where hurricane damage was worse than to the north. Our Golden Glades station was damaged beyond immediate repair. We will set up a bus bridge to cover that area.
Ten miles of trees fell along our tracks.
Thirty-eight crossing signals remained without power.
A third of our stations lacked power. The stations and parking areas require nighttime lighting.
And a host of other challenges.
Our contractors have been working hard to solve these problems. SFRTA staff has been on the job around the clock.
We are extremely grateful to our passengers for their patience. I am one of them!
As always, safety is and continues to be our number one priority for our passengers and employees.
Our customer service phone lines were damaged. We have devised a solution whereby passengers can call into 1-800-TRI-RAIL (874-7245) to access a recording that will provide the most current information regarding service resumption, as it becomes available. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
When service resumes, it will be on a limited basis. SFRTA’s objective will be to transport passengers from Point A to Point B as safely and in as timely a manner as is possible. We are aiming to create a schedule that, while not the one you are accustomed to, will be one that is sustainable once implemented.
Currently, approximately 25 percent of the county’s 14,000 signalized intersections are not working because of power outages or damages caused by the storm. This is a high priority due to public safety. These intersections should be treated as four-way stops as follows:
· If each vehicle arrives at different times, they leave in the order in which they arrived.
· If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the driver on the right goes first (right of way)
· If two vehicles arrive at the same time and one is signaling a turn across the path of the other, the one that is not turning has the right of way.
· If you wait in a line to get to an intersection, each car stops and then follows the above rules.
· Stop lights that are blinking red or not working at all should be treated as four-way stops.
Please be careful at these intersections!
· You may also register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
· The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice.