challenges of reentry and recovery

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

challenges of reentry and recovery:

city still not back to normal

Commissioner John Alemán was one of those making her way back to the Beach during the official reentry period this morning. She has been on the Beach since immediately after the storm, but because there is no power at her house her family went into Miami to stay with a friend who has a generator, which left her in line with many other residents trying to return from evacuation points.
 
Clamoring to get back, drivers had taken up the three travel lanes as well as the two shoulders on the MacArthur Causeway, meaning personnel needed for cleanup and emergency services would not be able to get in. Alemán sent City Manager Jimmy Morales photos of the problem and the City adjusted to allow residents in but forcing non-residents to circle back, clearing the shoulders for essential services.
 
“I know there was a tremendous amount of anxiety to get home and check on things,” she said. “I was getting countless text messages and email and social media shoutouts urging the City to let residents back in but I think that folks that weren’t here don’t know about the conditions.”
 
A lot of progress has been made in just 24 hours, she said, but conditions are still not optimal and, in some cases, dangerous. “A tree fell on a car that somebody got in before the resident ban was lifted,” she said. “I don’t know who they were and I hope they weren’t injured, but it tells a story of how dangerous it is … I passed this morning a wooden telephone pole that had snapped in half so the top part was being held up by wires.” In that case, she said, a police officer was on-site to ensure public safety.
 
“The fact that the city, basically within 24 hours of the winds dying down, was able to reopen is practically a miracle and not without some concern because we had two gas leaks that I know of,” she added. “What people don’t understand is it takes time to survey every single street in the City and determine is there a downed power line, is there a tree or other hazard, do a wellness check on people we know that did not evacuate. There were seniors we checked on going door to door before the storm and if they refused to evacuate, we had to go back and check on them after the storm.”
 
In addition to power outages, she said water and sewer services are not yet back to normal. “There are parts of the City, including in the Nautilus area, where there’s no water. Only 16 of the 28 sanitary sewer pumps are operating properly now. The others are on generator and, of course, we have someone watching them … in the high rises, people may not realize if there’s no power, there’s no water.”
 
Her concern is people coming home too soon. “What are they coming home to and is it safe for them? And if it isn’t, they’re putting a new demand on rescue and fire personnel, taking them away from getting the City back on its feet,” she said.
 
Without stoplights, the chances for accidents are greater. And then there are medical concerns. “If people are not properly prepared to be back, they may have hydration issues," she said. “Many of our seniors in assisted living are coming back to no power so there’s going to be calls for medical assistance.” In addition, there are security issues with non-residents entering. All of that takes resources away from the cleanup and recovery. “If they are going to come back now, try to stay off the road. Only essential driving, please. Don’t try to drive and look around.” Those who do, “At a minimum they are slowing down essential recovery efforts,” she said.
 
While things have improved, she wants residents to be aware of continued dangerous conditions. “There is controlled access for collector streets, meaning the main streets, if there’s a dangerous condition,” she said. “If it’s a minor street, police have put a barricade there.” Do not ignore these barricades and assume they are forgotten from the storm, she said. “It’s there for a reason.”
 
She understands that in this cleanup phase people want to help. “The best thing they can do is help their neighbors. Don’t do anything dangerous like take down whole trees. The City will do that,” she said. “Help with small trees, sweep sidewalks and driveways, and help elderly neighbors. That’s a great thing they can do.”
 
She also urges those returning to hydrate. “It’s going to be very hot over the next couple of days. The water’s drinkable.” And, if anyone is having problems with their sewer or their water, “It doesn’t hurt to over report that stuff. That’s a priority," she said. "Don’t hesitate to call [the City’s helpline] to make sure the city knows about it, can triage the problems, get them prioritized, and dispatch.”  That helpline number is 305-604-CITY.


Photo: John Alemán

after irma: city tries to save its trees


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
and what you can do to help

irma cleanup and recovery


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
what you need to know

addressing community needs after irma


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
city establishes donation drop-off ponts; partners with chamber of commerce on assisting businesses

Miami Beach Hotels offer special hurricane recovery rates


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
good through monday, september 18

IRS offers relief after irma


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
miami-dade county taxpayers eiligble

Building Department info re irma recovery


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
emergency minor repair permit added

special irma coverage


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
important hurricane info Updated September 14 at 3:30 pm