OFFICE OF THE CITY COUNCIL
117 WEST DUVAL STREET, SUITE 425
4TH FLOOR, CITY HALL
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32202
CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS MEETING MINUTES
September 7, 2017
Location: City Council Chamber, City Hall – St. James Building; 117 West Duval Street,
In attendance: Council Members Anna Lopez Brosche (President), Greg Anderson, Danny Becton, Aaron Bowman, Lori Boyer, Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown, Doyle Carter, John Crescimbeni, Garrett Dennis, Al Ferraro, Reginald Gaffney, Bill Gulliford, Tommy Hazouri, Jim Love, Joyce Morgan, Sam Newby, Matt Schellenberg and Scott Wilson
Also: Mayor Lenny Curry; Jason Gabriel, Peggy Sidman, Paige Johnston and Jason Teal – Office of General Counsel; Cheryl Brown – Council Director/Secretary; Kim Taylor – Council Auditor’s Office; Carol Owens and Philip Zamarron – Legislative Services Division; Steve Cassada and Louie Marino – Council Staff Services; Jeff Clements – Council Research Division; Sam Mousa, Ali Korman-Shelton and Jordan Elsbury – Mayor’s Office; Mike Weinstein – Finance and Administration Department; Kurtis Wilson – Fire and Rescue Department; Steve Woodard – Emergency Preparedness Division
Meeting Convened: 3:44 p.m.
President Brosche convened the meeting and Council Member Carter delivered the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Lenny Curry informed the Council that he had declared a state of emergency yesterday afternoon due to the approach of Hurricane Irma. The mayor cautioned the council and the general public that Hurricane Irma is not another Hurricane Matthew – this storm has the potential to be much more serious. The City has urged residents to evacuate from evacuation zones A and B and from low-lying areas and mobile homes in other areas. The evacuation is voluntary at this point, but may well become mandatory tomorrow depending on the storm’s track. He said that gas supplies are problematic in some parts of town, not because of a shortage of gasoline but because of distribution problems.
In response to a question from Council Member Becton, the mayor said that thus far traffic on the major highways is moving, albeit slowly, in part because of the volume of traffic coming through Jacksonville from South Florida. Law enforcement is monitoring traffic continuously and will take whatever steps are necessary to keep the volume moving as quickly as possible. In response to a question from Council Member Anderson, the mayor said that the 630-CITY hotline is the best way to report any problems or situations to the City. In response to a question from Council Member Reggie Brown about where persons evacuated from mental health facilities will be sheltered, Emergency Preparedness Chief Steve Woodard said that the city is prepared to accommodate everyone who needs shelter and learned a lesson from last year’s experience with Hurricane Matthew. In response to a question from Council Member Hazouri, the mayor said that the City’s regular solid waste service will continue through Saturday, then be discontinued through the end of the storm. Council Member Boyer asked the mayor and Emergency Preparedness to spread the word broadly that the shelters will not be providing food service and medicine, and evacuees should bring their own food, medicine and bedding for several days. In response to a question from Council Member Newby about sheltering the homeless, Mr. Woodard said that the City is working with homeless shelters to get the word out to the homeless population about their shelter options.
In response to a question from Council Member Ferraro, Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa said that there are currently no plans to shut down sewage treatment pump stations and treatment plants, but will do what is necessary to deal with changing conditions. In response to a question from Council Member Love, Mayor Curry said that non-essential City employees will be off on Friday and a decision on Monday will be made during the weekend. Employees can call 630-CITY to reach a recording about returning to work next week. Council Member Katrina Brown asked about the process for persons with special needs to register in advance with the Emergency Preparedness Division so that shelter needs can be determined in advance. In response to a question from Council Member Bowman, Mr. Woodard said that the Florida Highway Patrol controls when bridges are closed to traffic, which generally happens when sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour. Mr. Woodard urged citizens to have a radio and supply of batteries in case power goes out and internet and cell phone service is lost. Council Member Crescimbeni asked about JEA’s readiness to deal with power outages and mutual aid agreements with other utilities, about plans for dealing with storm debris, and about the possibility of streaming information 24/7 on radio stations. Mr. Mousa said that WJCT 89.9 FM is the official radio station for emergency information.
In response to a question from Council Member Morgan about the City making sandbags available, Mayor Curry said that it has been a long-standing policy decision of the City not to make sandbags available, but if council members want to consider that option, he is open to discussing where resources might be found to provide that service. Council Member Reggie Brown asked about the availability of televisions in shelters to provide information to evacuees and the availability of heavy-duty cots to handle large evacuees whose weight exceeds the rating of the normal light cots. Councilman Brown asked the Mayor to request the National Guard to provide sandbags, cots and meals ready to eat (MREs). The mayor said the storm projections currently call for tropical storm force winds to arrive around 8 a.m. on Sunday and hurricane force winds to arrive around 8 a.m. on Monday. Mr. Woodard noted that Hurricane Matthew was a category 1 or 2 storm when it reached Jacksonville and was far enough off-shore that hurricane-force winds never actually reached Jacksonville; we only experienced tropical storm winds, and Irma will be much stronger than Matthew was.
In response to a question from Council Member Carter, Mr. Woodard said that 12 evacuation shelters will be opened at 10 a.m. on Friday and emergency preparedness staff will get word to law enforcement to inform out-of-town travelers where to find public shelters if they find themselves in Jacksonville when travel conditions deteriorate. Council Member Newby reiterated the need to have food available for the homeless at shelters. In response to a question from Council Member Katrina Brown, Sheriff Mike Williams said that at the peak of the storm, law enforcement may be unable to respond to 9-1-1 calls, but will respond as quickly as possible when conditions allow. Council Member Anderson confirmed with the Council President that she will be attending EOC briefings and will send out e-mail updates to council members three times a day.
Meeting adjourned: 4:35 p.m.
Minutes: Jeff Clements, Council Research
9.7.17 Posted 5:00 p.m.
Tapes: City Council Special Emergency Preparedness meeting – LSD