Communities return to normalcy after Irma

Despite some leftover clean-up, Winter Park and Maitland are on the way to recovery following the hurricane.

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  • | 3:23 p.m. September 22, 2017
Damage leftover from Hurricane Irma the day after the storm.
Damage leftover from Hurricane Irma the day after the storm.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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It’s been almost two weeks since Hurricane Irma tore through Central Florida, but Winter Park and Maitland are in much better shape than other communities.

Both cities have faced similar issues regarding damage from the storm — including power outages, downed trees and some structural damage to businesses and other buildings.

The process in evaluating costs relating to damages is still in the early stages, Maitland Community Development Director Dan Matthys said.

“We have a damage assessment team going through, and they did go to all the city’s facilities and take pictures and mark damages,” Matthys said. “As far as non-city-owned buildings, our department did set up a community response team that went out and surveyed damages in different zones.

“I think overall, we fared off better than what we could have, and better than what I expected,” he said. “There were some houses that had trees fall on them or clip them, but I think overall, this city got very lucky.”

The hardest hit area, Matthys said, was in the northeastern part of the city, where some of the bigger and older trees still are.

Along with issues of damages, the issues of power outages are still on the city’s radar, because some in Maitland are still without power as of press time Wednesday. About a dozen or so individuals without power made their displeasures known at the City Council meeting Monday night.

While many are returning to their routines, the city is still doing a lot of work to return the community to normal.

“Crews have been out there day and night, police are working double shifts — we’ve definitely had a presence out there,” Matthys said.

In Winter Park, Mayor Steve Leary and the local government have been dealing with many of the same issues — except for power.

With the city incorporating undergrounding of electric utilities, many Winter Park residents within city limits had power back fairly quickly. 

Currently, the only people without power are the ones who had some kind of damage done to their private property — such as their meter or power heads — which will require a private electric contractor for full restoration.

Much like Maitland, Winter Park has been in the assessment phase since the storm passed, and the current damage stimation is $500,000.

Downed trees and branches that caused building damage also have become a priority of clean-up in general, though Leary said it will take 30 to 45 days for everything to be removed. 

“Right now, we are in competition for crews with the entire state of Florida and Texas for clean-up,” Leary said. “So we have contracts and we have agreements in place leading into the storm, but at the end of the day, there are also groups that oversee assignments of some of these contractors - so right now, they are pushing all their efforts to South Florida, which was devastated so much worse.”

Once those crews are available, some will come to help Winter Park, he said.


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