The week following Hurricane Irma was a very difficult and stressful time for everyone in Sunny Isles Beach and throughout Florida.
Although we were spared what could have been a catastrophic event, our City still sustained a fair amount of infrastructure damage in addition to many of our residents waiting several days to have their electricity restored. On Monday morning after the storm, throughout our City we discovered that we had downed power lines that were still live, damaged power poles that were dangling, and a lot of vegetation and debris blocking roads and sidewalks. Close to 60% of homes and businesses were without power. Nearly all of our traffic signals were either broken or inoperable. Our City staff and outside contractors mobilized at 7:00 am, and in the next 36 hours, completed 5 days’ worth of work. The City Manager, Chief of Police and I had to make the unpopular decision of keeping the City locked down until we were sure that conditions were safe for residents to return. This upset a lot of people, but I must tell you that the conditions were simply not safe enough to open the City back up until Tuesday morning. We received a lot of rapid assistance from county and state officials in getting FPL to deal quickly with our most critical needs. This was invaluable as the demand for FPL’s services was overwhelming during the days immediately following the storm.
Your Police Department, City Staff and outside contractors deserve our highest appreciation for getting our City up and running so quickly. In addition to the monumental push in the first 36 hours, they continued their intense efforts all week in what were sweltering conditions outside. A special thanks to my neighbors, the Ortiz family, and their companies Horsepower Electric and AUM Construction, for answering my call to focus their electrical contracting resources in getting our streets cleared of downed power lines and a number of our critical traffic signals operational again. Commissioner Svechin led a group of community minded volunteers in assisting with clearing debris from our streets, sidewalks and parks.
My fellow Commissioners and I hope everyone made it through this storm safely and could get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. For as difficult as the recovery was, and in some cases, continues to be, we were truly blessed with this outcome.