Hermine hits capital, raising questions, tensions and agendas
When Hurricane Hermine blew through Florida’s capital Sept. 1, it was accompanied by a string of firsts: the first hurricane in Tallahassee in more than 30 years and in the state in 11 years; the first big storm to test the skills of Gov. Rick Scott and the city’s new mayor,
, and the first recovery effort staged in the age of social media.
The combination proved to be a volatile mix that unleashed a torrent of complaints that the seat of government in the third most populous state was unprepared to handle a widespread power outage. It launched a public spat between the Republican governor and the Democratic mayor over whose approach was the most responsible, and it spewed partisan politics into disaster recovery.
With winds of 65 mph and the center of the Category 1 storm just miles from the heart of downtown Tallahassee, Hermine severed power for two days to a week to more than 75,000 customers of the city’s municipally owned electric system and 20,000 customers of the neighboring cooperative electric company, Talquin Electric. The primary cause of the damage: downed limbs and trees from Tallahassee’s famed canopy.
Scott, who has become accustomed to crisis responses this year, quickly positioned himself as facilitator-in-chief. Beginning the first night after Hermine hit, he staged a series of public meetings with state and local officials and representatives of the state’s largest utilities to discuss maximizing resources to get power restoration and debris removed. Story here.