MARCO ISLAND — Isaac has spared us; maybe the Calusa legend is true.
By midday Sunday we were being told we would have over seven inches of rain and a storm surge of 6 to 8 feet. Fortunately we got lucky.
Your city planned for the worst. I signed an emergency declaration for the city over the weekend and attended the planning meetings that took place preparing how we would protect our citizens, keep essential services working, and clean up after the disaster passed.
Since all the work occurs primarily out of the public eye, I'd like to tell you some of the things the city does to prepare for one of these events.
Beginning with a previously prepared Emergency Manual, the city begins planning for the event many days in advance. Our city manager, the Emergency Manager-Fire Chief Mike Murphy, our Public Information Officer-Assistant Chief of Police Dave Baer, and our department heads begin meeting to coordinate the operations of city departments.
I as well as other councilors were able to attend the meetings this past weekend and would like to let you know some of the things we did to prepare. Most of them are transparent to the average citizen, but as an example you may have seen generators at each traffic light to provide emergency power to the intersection if required.
In the City Hall parking lot there was a fuel truck in case the gas stations did not have power, heavy equipment to remove debris and dump trucks to take it off the island. Chain saws, generators, vehicles and other mobile equipment were fueled, tested and deployed ready to be used. Public Works personnel were put on notice to report when we believed they would be needed, and lodging was secured in case they were needed around the clock. Food and water supplies were delivered, and our Emergency Operations Center was activated.
Utility personnel were brought in to make sure our water and sewer systems continued to operate. Parks personnel were available to assist in the cleanup. Police and Fire were brought up to full staffing levels with off shift personnel put on standby.
The planning goes down to the lowest levels; do we have enough petty cash to pay for things if credit cards don't work? Are our computer systems backed up, and how are we going to get essential information our to our citizens? Who is going to answer the phones as people call in with questions? How are we making sure we account for all of our costs for FEMA reimbursement? I could go on, but you get the point.
I mentioned our Emergency Manger, Mike Murphy before. His job is to coordinate all of the City functions as well as act as our liaison with Collier County and the State of Florida Emergency Management offices. After his conference calls with those agencies, we hold meetings and conference calls with our personnel to disseminate the latest information and coordinate our resources and answer questions. He did an outstanding job.
As I write this very early Monday morning after the worst is over, city damage assessment inspection teams are already at work surveying the island, reporting problems.
As I said at the top of this commentary, "We should be proud". I am after watching how our city handled Isaac, and you can be assured that Marco Island will be ready for the next event with the dedicated and professional staff we employ.