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Election 2017 Question of the week: What did you learn from Hurricane Irma

September 22, 2017
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.

The 11th Question of the Week is: What did you learn from Hurricane Irma?

MAYOR'S RACE:

- Joe Coviello: Hurricane Irma demonstrated our community's resolve. I witnessed countless acts of generosity and humanity. In addition, our Emergency Operations Center and First Responders executed a comprehensive emergency response plan. Decisions were made early which contributed to Public Safety initiatives in a dynamic environment. The main lesson learned: Shelters were unable to open due to the potential storm surge threat. Residents only had access to one shelter in Cape Coral that filled up quickly. We need to strategically develop more shelter options. This will provide a safe haven for residents when faced with the possibility of a Hurricane and large storm surge.

* * *

- Derrick Donnell: When I first began responding to this question I addressed aspects such as early preparation, identifying nearby shelters and following the directions of emergency officials. Although I did learn the importance of these and many other aspects, truthfully speaking, the most important lessons I learned from Hurricane Charley that have been further reinforced by Hurricane Irma are; 1) To identify and protect what is truly important in life - family and friends and 2) To understand just how precious yet fragile each day truly is. So, every day I should be thankful to be alive and I need to live each day to its fullest.

* * *

- Rana Erbrick: I learned that what might divide us is not as strong as what unites us. We pull together when these events hit us; neighbors help neighbors, strangers work hand in hand with strangers and the city as a whole rises up to heal. Irma also reinforced what I learned from Charley - BE PREPARED! Have a plan, a to-go kit and list. Keep friends/family/neighbors informed of your intentions. Be patient, be calm. Finally I learned, continue to be thankful. Thank you to the City employees, first responders, and countless volunteers and citizens that put the people of this City first.

* * *

- April Freeman: Life is fragile. We were well prepared, bags packed, and ready to go at a moment's notice. We learned that no matter how much you prepare, something unpredictable can still happen. Many people were unable to evacuate for a number of reasons, and several needed assistance after the storm. A number of people nearly lost their lives, some did, and many lost everything else. The most important lesson learned from Irma: When the storm passed, the citizens of this city remained calm and cared for their neighbors, friends and family. We became and remained #CapeCoralStrong.

* * *

- Michael D. Hollow: Hurricane Irma didn't necessarily teach me anything, rather reaffirmed what we sometimes forget exists. Beginning several days before Irma made landfall, before we knew the true path of destruction, I watched our city come together and work as a community. Strangers helping strangers, humanity at its finest. Of course, there are some things that could always be improved, that's where a debrief comes into play. However, for today let's build off the many positives that were and continue to be displayed. As I am sitting here writing this, a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. comes to mind "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

* * *

- Kevin Koch: Hurricane Irma showed me the best part of our city and it reaffirmed my desire to be its leader. Listening to the radio Friday morning while I was trying to board up 20+ rental homes it really struck me. Everyone was calling in with information about gas, water, food, plywood, etc. trying to help each other out. It really put what matters into perspective. All of a sudden the election was a distant afterthought. Elections come and go, but this city and its people are here to stay and we need to take care of our people, always.

* * *

- Daniel James Sheppard III: Lots of love in the Cape. People helping others working together in giving and caring. Families evacuating, leaving mother or father behind because of there responsibility. Hospital staff on A team and first responders. Have to stay to help others. We only have one Shelter in Cape for storm surge. Trees took down more power lines and did more damage than palms. No perfect science in predicting storms and their path. There will always be people that don't prepare. Be prepared to help others. Seeing my wife and kids helping others, not thinking of themselves. From him, all blessing come.

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DISTRICT 1

- Jim Burch (Incumbent): Mr. Burch has withdrawn from the race; he is no longer running.

* * *

- James Frederick Foraker: First of all, the city of Cape Coral has a tremendous community spirit. Before and after Irma the community came together to help one another. Total strangers were assisting others before and after the storm. Putting up shutters, telling each other where to obtain supplies, and offering advice to first-time hurricane people. I felt honored to be among the many people involved in these efforts. I do feel that we as a city can always improve in our disaster efforts. The length of time between Irma and Charley made us slightly complacent. We need to work on this.

* * *

- John Gunter: What I learned from Hurricane Irma is that we have some great people in our community. First, the people who make up our Emergency Management Team who did an outstanding job for our community. Then, all of our citizens who came together to help one another in a time of need. We came together as a community to put our city back together, and tried to have some normalcy in our lives. We are still recovering but if we work as a community we can overcome any adversity. I want to personally thank everyone who helped our citizens, in any capacity, and who helped one another. Thank You All For Caring and Helping!!!!

* * *

- Graham Madison Morris: First off, it's not so much what did I "learn" that stands out. It's what I had reaffirmed to me, once again, for how this community can pull together when it needs to most. I have learned, by observation, that we now have a "bottleneck" situation in pretty much all of South Florida for large-scale evacuations. Local and statewide leadership will need to work creatively and cooperatively to enhance preparedness on this front for future storms. In the space remaining I'll just say a broad and genuine "thank you" to everyone who helped anyone else through this and I wish for all affected that the path back to some kind of "normal" is as painless as possible.

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DISTRICT 4

- Jeffrey Alan Jones: What I took away from Hurricane Irma is you must listen to the emergency operations center. When you are told to evacuate, leave. Thousands were without power, water, and food. This led to extremely long lines for living essentials. Most importantly, after the storm passes, be aware of road conditions as they have probably been altered. Stop signs may be obscured by debris. Traffic lights out and intersections blocked. What I took away, after the hurricane passed, tragic events can still occur, affecting all of us, forever.

* * *

- Richard Leon (Incumbent): Hurricane Irma has reminded us that this community will rise above its differences to band together in the face of disaster. My entire life I have lived in Cape Coral and I couldn't be more proud of our City. We have shown why so many move from places like California, New York, or even Texas to our great city. After the storm I emerged out of my home like so many who stayed and we got to work. Clearing debris from our neighbors, helping take shutters off and even supplying power to those who had none. Now there are fundraisers to give further assistance to those hit hardest. The volunteers, City staff, everyone, working together to ensure the prosperity of our City is a huge part of what makes Cape Coral so great.

* * *

- Jennifer I. Nelson: I realized two predominant things from Hurricane Irma. First, there's a need for building code changes to reinforce our seawalls for future storms. Home insurance does not cover the repair cost which is estimated up to $60,000 per seawall and residents are faced with a lower assessed home value as a result. Insurance legislation/ reform should also be considered to address homes with seawalls. Second, I witnessed how incredibly generous our community is with time, supplies, and resources to help one another. I saw our elected officials and first responders come together to plan then execute for the safety and well-being of our people. I was proud to work alongside several fellow candidates regardless of political views or preferences to benefit our city.

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DISTRICT 5 (General Election ballot only)

- James Schneider: I was so impressed with the resilience and the kindness in people. We decided to stay, and began learning of others who made the same decision, but panicked at the last minute, so we invited them to stay with us. We did not expect to have 12 guests, 5 dogs and 1 cat for over a week. Even a family of strangers came and we pulled together. We were offered two generators, and a lovely couple I'd never met before called and offered us their entire freezer of food before leaving, seeing that our brood was growing by the hour.

* * *

- Dave Stokes: Living in Cape Coral during Hurricane Charley we all pulled together as neighbors and again during Hurricane Irma we helped each other before and after the storm. Cape Coral residents are a tough bunch and we always pull together as neighbors to help each other during a time of crisis. I learned that we need to look at having more shelters available before and after the storm. We need to look at manning those shelters better with more staff and supplies to help our residents. We need to advertise the shelter plan in advance of the storm for residents.

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DISTRICT 6 (General Election ballot only)

- John Karcher: The Red Cross must approve all Hurricane Shelters, which must be in surge zone 3 or higher.

Our land elevation south of Kismet is below storm surge requirements therefore, Island Coast High School is the only Red Cross approved Hurricane Shelter in Cape Coral.

Construction of a stadium that would accommodate 6,000 people and serve as a shelter; the cost is estimated to be $25 to $30 million.

As future development comes to Cape Coral in surge areas, developers will be required to mitigate storm surge by funding locations in Eastern Lee County, outside of the storm surge areas.

* * *

- Rick Williams (Incumbent): I learned two important and gratifying lessons.

First, I was very appreciative and proud of our public safety personnel, city staff and management on their outstanding preparation and follow-up. Many hunkered down at the Emergency Operations Center and at City Hall, separated from their worried families. These dedicated employees deserve a HUGE thank you!

Just as gratifying was the way everyone pulled together to help one another, as they did after the last tornado. Our people put aside personal comfort and found amazing ways to lend a hand to those in need. Thank you, too! We're a large city with a small town attitude.

Personal note to self - never leave a car near a tree!

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Important dates

PRIMARY, Oct. 3, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes - Closed Aug. 14

* Early Voting (primary election) -Sept 28-30;

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes, Oct. 10

* Early Voting (general election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- Voter registration:

Applications are available online at www.leeelections.com, at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.

 
 

 

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