Glancing blow brings big outages
I received a call in the middle of last week from Duke Energy about how they are "assessing the situation" concerning power restoration in our area. At that point, we had been without power for two days and three nights.
Irma didn't hit us nearly as hard as other places. We were really lucky. Since this is the case, why were we without power for days and days? I'm not rich. I make $15 an hour doing a tech support job. I don't live beyond my means. Quite a sizable sum of my income goes to paying for Duke's service, and I am not impressed with it. I am sick of living in a state that has to pay a lot of money for subpar customer service because we are forced to. Monopolies are supposed to be illegal, yet that is what we in Pasco County have since Duke is the only service provider.
I am tired of my money going to services that don't uphold their end of the bargain — and Duke Energy is just one of a lot of those kinds of companies here in Florida that fail to uphold what we pay them for.
Eric Uff, Holiday
Thanks for their hard work
I am grateful for the workers from Tampa Electric and the other power companies that have worked hard to get electric power back for all of us. Thanks to all of the hard workers who are spending countless hours in bucket trucks in that risky job. Many came from other parts of the state to help us out, leaving their families at home in equally uncertain circumstances and driving long distances in bucket trucks. They deserve a big thanks from our community for their hard work.
Stephen M. Todd, Riverview
Gulfport showed the way
As soon as Pinellas County and Gulfport were on notice about Hurricane Irma, Gulfport City Manager Jim O'Reilly activated an emergency response system to ensure the safety of Gulfport residents. He and his staff participated in every Pinellas County emergency management conference call, quickly disseminating information to City Council members and all city staff. There was not one instant over several days, numerous times per day, that O'Reilly did not take my call and provide answers on a variety of questions.
City public works staff readied equipment for use pre- and post-Irma. Fire department personnel worked tirelessly evacuating special needs residents to shelters, as well as addressing other emergency situations and assistance. The Gulfport Police Department coordinated effortlessly with the Pinellas Government Sheriff's Office in securing our streets, providing guidance on safety and more. After Irma passed through, all staff went right to work clearing trees and securing access for residents, Duke Energy and tree removal companies. Please note that City Manager O'Reilly remained in Gulfport away from his family during the storm.
True to the wonderful city that Gulfport is, we were ready for Hurricane Irma. We will assess what worked well, what can be changed and/or improved. I know I have my list of items to review. One important improvement will be to ensure a pet-friendly shelter in Gulfport. We are strong. We are a team. We are Gulfport.
Yolanda Roman, Gulfport
The writer is a Gulfport City Council member, Ward 3.
Utility poles out of date
We learned last week that more than 13 million Floridians lost power, marking the biggest outage in Florida and one of the largest in U.S. history. We are among those who lost power. Two telephone poles snapped within three blocks of our Pass-a-Grille home. I remember telephone poles that looked just like these from my youth on St. Pete Beach. That was almost 60 years ago. With all the new building codes for homes, commercial structures and bridges to help withstand mother nature's curve balls, how did the lowly utility pole fall between the cracks?
Jeanne Chase, St. Pete Beach
Nation has regressed
America used to be a country seen as progressive, kind and caring. I believe that is no longer the case.
Floridians have had to endure some terrible decisions made in Tallahassee over the past few years. In spite of this, as Hurricane Irma barreled down on the state, I was amazed at the number of shelters opened and grateful to the many volunteers. But why was it necessary to open some schools with little notice? Why were most special needs shelters full? Why wasn't it known, before this storm, that people will not evacuate and leave their pets?
Gasoline shortages caused havoc on the road for evacuees, long lines had to be endured by those who stayed, and some people with generators could not run the equipment because of the gas shortage.
Hurricane Charley in 2004 left people without power for up to two weeks. It is now 2017, the state endures a Category 2 storm causing minimal flooding and structural damage, yet so many people are without power. In spite of teams coming from out of state to help with the cleanup, I still had no power as of midweek. That means no AC in 90-degree heat, the food in my refrigerator and freezer are spoiling, I can't access the Internet to pay my bills, I can't watch TV to see what is happening here and around the nation, and I can't read the latest news because I haven't received the Times since Sept. 9.
Welcome to the 21st century in backwards America.
Geanne A. Marks, St. Petersburg
Hurricanes are going to happen again, and with them, evacuations. Florida did pretty good job getting people north. We have excellent highways, six lanes or more in many places. This country needs to do a better job evacuating the coastline, which means you can't have bottlenecks like the Carolinas where many highways are two lanes in each direction. Better infrastructure is the answer to saving more lives.
Joe Jones, New Port Richey