2017 Hurricane Season

Governor's Press Office

Local officials across Florida shouldn’t rely on the federal government to be on the ground everywhere a day or days after the next natural disaster, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday during the annual Governor’s Conference on Hurricanes.

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Hurricane season starts in less than a month. Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris reflects on the lessons learned from Irma, including the impact of flooding that lasted weeks after the storm passed. And he explains how the county is preparing for the 2018 storm season. 

The forecasters got Hurricane Irma mostly right. At least compared to the predictions of past storms. That’s one of the conclusions from a National Hurricane Center report on the big storm that hit Florida last September.

Straddled across Ausberto Maldonado's backyard in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, a suburb of San Juan, is a nagging reminder of Hurricane Maria's destructive power.

"See, that tree broke off that branch, which is as thick as a tree — and now it's in my yard," says Maldonado, a 65-year-old retiree.

Rats scurry from under the downed tree, preventing Maldonado from hanging his laundry. To get the tree removed, he must show up in person at a local government office. But the diabetic ulcers on his feet make it painful to walk.

When Hurricane Irma slammed into the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alvin Joseph was home in St. Thomas with his wife, his oldest granddaughter and four of his great-grandkids.

As the wind howled, Joseph and his wife went into the little boys’ bedroom to get a mattress and box spring for protection.

“The ceiling tiles had already disappeared out of the roof and we could see the sky,” says Joseph. “By the time we left out of the bedroom to go back in the living room—whoosh—roof was gone.”

Guillermo Porras couldn’t get in touch with his doctor for a week after Hurricane Irma.  His cell phone service was spotty after the storm and he was running low on his prescriptions.

“It’s been very difficult after the hurricane,” he said.

Even if he could get through, Porras would have found the South Miami Health Center that he visits was closed because of the extended power outage that affected much of South Florida.

A 7-year-old Polk County girl died Wednesday from carbon-monoxide poisoning at a home with a generator running inside after Hurricane Irma, authorities said.

The Florida Legislature is cancelling upcoming committee meetings ahead of Hurricane Irma. Lawmakers’ preparations for the 2018 session will have to wait.

Miami police intends to involuntarily commit homeless individuals starting Friday if they refuse to move off the streets. Volunteer outreach teams through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust began placing individuals in shelters Tuesday morning and will continue those efforts through Thursday.