Women in Business Awards now accepting nominations >> NOMINATE NOW

Fort Myers City Hall

Fort Myers Fire Chief Tracy McMillion started the city’s Hurricane Ian update Monday night by explaining the city’s progress and the steps it will take moving forward.  

Regarding Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery, the city submitted the letters of request for commercial and private property debris removal and is waiting for a response before work can begin. The city also submitted its expedited category A project, debris removal, and its category B project, emergency protective measures, on Nov. 1.  

“We’re really hopeful”, McMillion said. “Kristy Mathews, our emergency manager, has been talking a lot with FEMA, working with the state to get some good feedback on that. Everything seems very positive for the document that we actually submitted.” 

The city will recoup $14.5 million through the FEMA category A and B awards and will have six months to perform all work with a March 29, 2023 cutoff date. 

Monday was the last day for FEMA reimbursement for incurred costs, meaning for the next 120 days, reimbursement will be split with 75% from FEMA, 12.5% from the state and 12.5% from the city.  

Next, the city will focus on golf courses, damage assessments on city buildings, analysis of the yacht basin, debris management, an after-action review, and economic growth and recovery. 

Regarding utilities in the city, the water and sewer plants visit by Florida Division of Emergency Management were completed on Nov. 10, with all emergency repair items to be presented to Tetra Tech to get to the state by the Nov. 28 deadline.  

“We are already done with our first round and we’re meeting with Tetra Tech [consulting and engineering services firm] on a weekly basis to make sure we fine tune that submission and we can get as close to 100% recovery for those funds,” Public Utilities Director Richard Moulton said. 

Moulton said the city made great strides from a water distribution point of view. Water plant storage tanks are at 33 feet in height while maintaining a pressure of 47 pounds per square inch.  

The city’s next goal is to fill the Winkler storage tank.  

Regarding debris management, as of Sunday, the city and CrowderGulf Disaster Recovery & Debris Management processed 545,773 cubic yards of material into the debris management site. On Monday, the city called the second pass complete with the third pass to start Nov. 28, meaning the city will have touched all residents at least twice and, in some cases, a third time. 

City code forces completed the first and second passes through 19 of its 27 gated communities for which it received the right of entry. 

Commercial right-of-way cleanup began Nov. 19, with a limited number of addresses that FEMA approved. After next week, the city’s contractor will start picking up all commercial debris in the right of ways. 

“We need to make sure that the commercial properties realize that as we clean the right of ways up, they can’t be putting more out there,” Public Works Director Peter Bieniek said. “We’re cleaning the right of ways for the safety of the residents. The stuff that’s on your properties, they can either go to FEMA for help through that process or they can clean that up themselves.” 

As the city continues to recover following the storm, there are open green spaces residents can use. McMillion gave updates on some parks, saying Fort Myers Country Club golf course opened Oct. 29, with Eastwood golf course estimated open Dec. 15.  

Other updates include the floating docks removed from Centennial Park as the playground is assessed for long-term damage. In addition, Sam Fleishman baseball complex is closed until fencing can be repaired, but all parks are open to the public.  

“Some still need to be repaired but there’s no life-safety issues,” McMillion said. “So they’re open and kids and families can go out and enjoy our wonderful, beautiful green spaces.” 

Copyright 2022 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.