Hurricane Irma is now past and, while the cleanup and rebuilding will continue for weeks or months, we should take a minute to reflect on all that we have been through. As managers, some of our biggest challenges are in responding to natural disasters.
If you have worked in Florida for very long, it’s likely that Irma was not your first rodeo. Times like these test the dedication, professionalism and character of managers as well as our emergency responders and other staff. It starts with the preparations that last days or weeks once we are in the dreaded “cone of uncertainty”. For many of us, evacuating our citizens was necessary before riding out the storm. Only after the winds died down did we know what damages our communities suffered. There is some relief once the storm has passed and preliminary damage assessments are in because at least we know what lies ahead. Clean up and recovery usually take months if we are lucky and years if we aren’t.
Being the spouse of a manager in times of crisis is also a great sacrifice. My wife learned through the years that big storms meant she would be on her own to take care of the kids, pets and often relatives. She may not see me for days and our house is usually that last one in the neighborhood to get cleaned up.
This is what we signed up for. In times of crisis, our elected officials, staff and citizens all look to us to ensure that everything is going to be alright and then to make it alright as soon as the storm has passed. To do so means long hours, perseverance and steady, visible leadership. Getting enough sleep is something we can hope for later.
Events like Hurricane Irma make me thankful for all of the friends I’ve made through the FCCMA. Orange Park experienced some record setting flooding. Many people from other cities reached out through the FCCMA to offer help which was greatly appreciated. Those of you who have gotten things back to normal in your communities should reach out to managers in your area to see how they are doing and offer help.
There will be plenty of lesions learned after the recent series of major hurricanes hitting the southeast, not the least of which will be in finding better ways to ensure debris collection at reasonable prices when demand is high. The FCCMA will offer training opportunities in coming months. In the meantime, we should all be proud of the role we played in getting our cities and counties through some very difficult times.
Thank you for all that you do for Florida’s cities and counties. Don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything I or the FCCMA can do to help.