Reeling from the power and fury of Irma, the Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau team shares compassion for those impacted and admiration for all supporters as we work together toward full recovery.
Now behind us, none will soon forget the anxious week preceding the storm. As the massive hurricane churned relentlessly toward Florida, the wait seemed interminable. Where would it make landfall? What would be its likely course?
Advanced hurricane forecasting and a slow-moving storm meant the wait was long and, beneath sunny skies, seemed surreal. But those days afforded people on Florida’s Adventure Coast time to prepare and activate emergency plans.
National weather forecasts were riveting but local news became critical. The Hernando County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) mobilized early and delivered round-the-clock coverage. Public Information Center phone lines were staffed to answer questions and provide instructions. With evacuations anticipated, people with special needs were registered to ensure their safe transport to shelters.
Real time updates on local weather, evacuations, emergency shelters and more were continuously communicated via social media, press releases, emails and video press conferences. Thousands received text and voice updates via Alert Hernando.
The Hernando County School District quickly readied schools to shelter evacuees.
Impacted personally, many individuals gave their time and energy to ensure the safety and comfort of strangers. Volunteers worked day and night to prepare schools and staff them as emergency shelters; settling people - and often pets - in, feeding them, cleaning up and ensuring their safety, they rode out the storm together. In total, 5,267 people and 736 pets were sheltered from the dangerous winds and rain of Irma.
Throughout the community, people are rallying together. Checking in with neighbors, friends and co-workers, we look around, assess the damage and move forward.
Fallen trees are being cleared and crews are working to restore power to the thousands of households and businesses still without it.
Florida’s Adventure Coast was lucky in many ways. Irma had downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time it arrived, edging east and delivering us a glancing blow. The feared coastal storm surge did not occur so Hernando Beach and Weeki Wachee did not receive significant flooding.
Recovery is mainly associated with power restoration, fallen tree removal and debris clean-up. As Florida’s Adventure Coast moves forward, we realize the value of preparation and a unified response to weather emergencies.
From law enforcement, emergency services and utility workers, to school administrators and teachers, county government staffers, business owners, friends and neighbors, people in this community have worked tirelessly to help one another weather Irma. Recovery is well underway.
Most Florida’s Adventure Coast businesses, parks and attractions will be closed through this week but plan to warmly welcome visitors back early next week.