Friday was an anxious day for most of Florida, including Southwest Florida and Fort Myers Beach. At the 11pm update, Hurricane Dorian was a Category 4 storm with winds of 138mph. Forecasters continued to struggle with the track of the storm and where it would make landfall on the east coast of Florida.
As the storm made the turn toward Florida, it intensified and forward motion slowed down even more, stretching out the misery of wondering when and where it would hit. As of Friday at 11pm, it was forecast to arrive in the Palm Beach County area sometime Tuesday, September 3, while the entire Florida peninsula remained in the storm forecast cone for the next five days, as the forecast track turned northward just before or soon after landfall. Communities throughout the state got down to the business of preparing for a major hurricane, including those in Lee County.
Town of Fort Myers Beach
On Thursday, the Town issued its first storm update. That update encouraged residents to review their hurricane plan, supplies and medical prescriptions. It reminded residents that Purple and Yellow Re-Entry passes are still valid. The Town also announced that it was securing the Town’s email servers so anyone wishing to reach any member of Town Council was instructed to contact them using the following cell phone numbers: Mayor Anita Cereceda 239-292-7430; Vice Mayor Ray Murphy 239-308-5801; Council Member Bruce Butcher 239-322-2535; Council Member Rexann Hosafros 239-308-5797 and Council Member Joanne Shamp 239-220-2585.
On Friday afternoon, the Town announced an Emergency Town Council Meeting on Sunday, September 1 at 10am for the purpose of declaring a Local State Of Emergency to allow the Town to respond to Hurricane Dorian. This declaration is part of emergency protocol and keeps the town in line with other cities in Lee County.
reFRESH Estero Blvd/Waterlines
Crews for both the Estero Blvd and Waterlines projects began securing the work zones on Thursday, removing any unnecessary items or debris. Portable toilets and loose material will be moved to the fenced storage yard at the Lovers Key event field. Construction barrels used to delineate the construction zone will be reduced by two-thirds, with the remaining barrels secured with extra weight/sandbags. Large equipment will remain on the island to be ready for post storm clean-up efforts.
The Lee County Emergency Operations Center was partially activated involving only key agencies for initial planning midafternoon Friday. They declared a Local State of Emergency on Friday also. No shelters are open. There are no evacuation orders as of Friday night.
There will be no trash, yard waste or recycling collection anywhere in the county on Monday or Tuesday. The county asks that residents not place any yard waste at the curb this weekend. They will announce collection status updates prior to Wednesday.
State of Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis initially declared a State of Emergency for over two dozen east coast counties on Wednesday, August 28, expanding that to all 67 counties in the state on Thursday.
The Florida DOT has swept the shoulders of state roads so they can be opened as needed for evacuations. All non-essential lane closures are being reopened.
The Florida Highway Patrol will escort fuel trucks to ensure that fuel reaches critical areas more quickly. Governor DeSantis has activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops with an additional 1,500 awaiting orders.
Volunteer Florida is coordinating with 60 organizations active in disaster response. Anyone interested in volunteering after the storm should visit www.volunteerflorida.org
to register as a volunteer and search for volunteer opportunities.
Federal & Others
President Donald Trump signed an Emergency Declaration for Florida on Friday, releasing federal emergency aid to the state to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts.
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, which includes Fort Myers Beach, urged boaters and beachgoers to avoid the potentially hazardous conditions on the water this weekend. The USCG search and rescue capabilities will be limited Labor Day weekend as crews prepare for Hurricane Dorian by relocating assets for storm avoidance to ensure they are ready to respond immediately after the hurricane.
Comcast has opened their wireless hotspot network in Florida for anyone to use for free. To find a public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot, visit Xfinity.com/wifi
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the completion of pre-storm inspections of the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. The lake is at 13.66. As of Friday, the Corps expects the lake to receive about 3 feet of water over the next 30 days from Hurricane Dorian rainfall and inflow from north of the lake. They will not make pre-storm releases. After the storm, high-flow releases to the east and west are expected. Downstream flooding conditions will be evaluated prior to any releases. The Corps has extended the deadline for comment on the proposed deviations from the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule 2008 that is currently open for public comment, thought Sept. 20. See bit.ly/CorpsLORS for more information.