City nears normalcy following Irma

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 13, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Two days post Irma, the City of Tallahassee is almost back to normal.

As of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, roughly 300 people remain without power. That number is down drastically from the 56,000 people without power during the duration of the storm.

City Manager Rick Fernandez said the work is now, "virtually done."

At the Wednesday City Commission meeting Fernandez, along with other city staff members, provided updates on Irma recovery and response to the commission.

By the numbers, the City dispensed about 90,000 sand bags to residents prior to the storm. It also placed 30 portable generators at key intersections in the community. Plus, staff connected with critical customers including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, universities and hospitals ahead of Irma.

During the storm, about 300 trees came down. Those trees led to 177 roads being blocked.

On the power side, 56,000 people lost power during the duration of the storm. 11,000 were restored during the initial hours of the storm, until crews were called in because of safety. Between 1 p.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday 95 percent of city electric customers had power again.

The City expects power to be completely restored by Wednesday night.

Because of this, City utility crews- as well as the mutual aid crews assisting here- will head to other parts of the state to help with restoration efforts in areas that were more heavily damaged.

"We rely on each other. It's neighbors helping neighbors, just on a larger scale where we go down. So we're going to give back to some of our peers that have helped us in the past and will be there in the future when we need their help," said Rob McGarrah, General Manager of City Electric Utilities.

About 30 Tallahassee utility workers and about 17 vehicles will head to Gainesville. Crews from Louisiana, Ohio and Nebraska will head to Ocala and Lakeland.

"The fact that our folks are going to load up in those trucks after working around the clock to get power back on here and now go out and fan out across the state to get other people their power restored... it puts the best of this community on display," said Mayor Andrew Gillum. "Those City of Tallahassee trucks rolling into those other communities... I know what it felt like as a Mayor watching trucks roll into here in our aid (during Hermine.) I can only imagine the sense of relief people will feel when they see our crews showing up to help."

As restoration work completes, the City and County are now beginning cleanup efforts.

The City began debris pickup on Tuesday and resumed solid waste pickup on Wednesday. Leon County will begin debris pickup on Monday. Debris should be placed out by the road in between the curb and the resident's property.

"Please don't put the debris in bags, like yard bags. Just leave it in piles. Our contractor will come by with large claw trucks and things,which will seem familiar from last year's debris cleanup. And they'll pick it up and put it in the back of their dump truck and move it out from there," said Matt Cavell, spokesman for Leon County.

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