Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Post-Irma advice from man who helped restore New Orleans after Katrina

The cigar-chomping, salty-talking, retired Army three-star general who helped restore order to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has some advice for Florida as it deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Russel Honore, who turned 70 on Thursday, praises Gov. Rick Scott for the way he has dealt with a storm that killed about two dozen, left millions without power and spurred the nation's largest-ever evacuation.

"He did the right thing," Honore said, including early calls for evacuations and summoning the Florida National Guard.

But Honore also said Florida needs to work on some areas — its power and communications infrastructure, targeted evacuations, grants issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, helping people get out of the way of storms easier and requiring more emergency power generation.

The price tag, he said, is irrelevant.

"Look at the amount of money spent in overseas wars," Honore said. "We need to take care of our own people."

After Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Honore was chosen to head up Joint Task Force Katrina, leading military efforts to restore order in a chaotic atmosphere. It was a natural choice, given that he was born in Louisiana and had already been involved in supporting military responses to eight previous hurricanes.

Back then, he found a region wholly unprepared and poorly organized to deal with the unfolding disaster.

That wasn't the case in Florida with Hurricane Irma, he said.

Political leaders from Scott on down were clear in their message that Floridians should evacuate. And unlike in Texas, where the National Guard wasn't in place until after Hurricane Harvey deluged Houston and other areas, there was a robust military presence in place in Florida ahead of Irma to help with evacuation efforts, and later, search and rescue, infrastructure repair and relief distribution points.

Leaders opened shelters early too, Honore noted — but there weren't enough of them.

"I think they have done well," Honore said. "But I'm not into patting people on the back when we've got people out there suffering, people who died and people without power, without gas and without water."

As of Thursday, there were 2.6 million customers without power in the state. Eight residents of a Hollywood nursing home died in sweltering conditions after the air conditioning system went out. And motorists had trouble finding gas, often because stations had no power.

Honore said these are arguments for greater investment in the power infrastructure.

Among his suggestions are more underground power lines and mounting all above-ground lines on steel poles.

He's also calling for more emergency power generation systems for nursing homes and other places housing vulnerable populations, as well as at pharmacies and at all gas stations — not just those along hurricane evacuation routes.

"You need food, water and medicine, you need power and you need fuel to survive," he said.

And Honore, who became something of an environmental warrior after hanging up his Army uniform in 2008, is calling for tighter restrictions on building near the water.

Among other suggestions: Any rebuilding in the wake of Irma flooding should require construction at least a foot higher than the level of recent flood waters.

Overall, Honore likened a hurricane to a football game.

"In the first quarter, the disaster wins," he said. "If everything worked and no one got killed, it wouldn't be a disaster."

The final score, he said, rests on what happens next.

"We win based on our response," he said. "Getting those things that sustain life back up and running."

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
Forecast: Temperatures hover near record highs across Tampa Bay, with little rain

Forecast: Temperatures hover near record highs across Tampa Bay, with little rain

Warm weather will continue this week across Tampa Bay, with temperatures hanging around the low to mid 80s and a low chance of rain for the first half.Early morning fog is sparse across central Florida with some low visibility inland in places such a...
Published: 02/19/18
Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — What winter? 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaIt may still be mid February, but this week will already see plenty of sun...
Published: 02/18/18
Forecast: Weekend promises plenty of warmth and sunshine for Tampa Bay

Forecast: Weekend promises plenty of warmth and sunshine for Tampa Bay

A high-pressure system resting atop central Florida will make it difficult for rain to form, spelling a partly cloudy, mostly sunny weekend for the Tampa Bay.Friday morning commuters may see patches of fog, but these will clear up around 9 a.m. and y...
Published: 02/16/18
After fog, mostly sunny skies and warm conditions for Tampa Bay

After fog, mostly sunny skies and warm conditions for Tampa Bay

A thick blanket of fog welcomed early morning commuters in Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties on Thursday morning, prompting a dense fog warning.The fog cover should disperse by around 9:30 a.m., leading to partly cloudy, mostly sunny skies. "It’ll b...
Published: 02/15/18
Forecast: Valentine’s Day a mix of warm sunshine and clouds

Forecast: Valentine’s Day a mix of warm sunshine and clouds

It is going to be one of the hottest Valentine’s Days on record, with highs forecast to reach 82.This follows what is the hottest start to February on record, and Monday’s high of 86 also broke record highs for that day, 10Weather WTSP meteorologist...
Published: 02/14/18
Forecast: Hottest start to February in Tampa Bay will extend into Valentine’s Day

Forecast: Hottest start to February in Tampa Bay will extend into Valentine’s Day

It’s promising to be a hot Valentine’s Day this year in more ways than one. Average highs for the romantic holiday normally stick around 72 degrees. But this year, 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Grant Gilmore forecasts Wednesday’s high will reach 81. J...
Published: 02/13/18
Forecast: Tampa Bay continues to flirt with record-high heat

Forecast: Tampa Bay continues to flirt with record-high heat

This weekend’s unseasonably warm temperatures will extend into the workweek, with just a small chance of showers providing the only hiccup in what should be a pleasant — though sometimes humid — stretch across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperat...
Published: 02/12/18
Forecast: Near-record heat expected Sunday in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Near-record heat expected Sunday in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay can expect a hot Sunday, forecasters predict. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaTemperatures are forecasted to ...
Published: 02/11/18
Smell smoke? Controlled burn in Citrus County travels south

Smell smoke? Controlled burn in Citrus County travels south

Did you smell smoke in the air Thursday afternoon? That odor and haze was caused by a 1,000-acre controlled burn conducted in Citrus County by Florida Fire Services. Pasco County 911 reported receiving multiple calls about smoke in the air of norther...
Published: 02/09/18
Forecast: Persistent cloud cover, warm weather for Tampa Bay weekend

Forecast: Persistent cloud cover, warm weather for Tampa Bay weekend

It’ll be an unnaturally warm weekend in Tampa Bay with temperatures sticking around the low 80s, nearly 10 degrees higher than an average weekend in February.But there will be plenty of cloud cover shielding the bay. Starting Friday afternoon, expect...
Published: 02/09/18