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Missy Layfield - Editor
08/30/2012 at 3:16pm Delete

Dry Run

Let’s call last weekend a dry run.

We were in the path of Isaac and then we weren’t but the effects of the large storm still brought changes to the Island. The forecast was iffy enough for the Lee County Emergency Operations Center to issue an evacuation order for Fort Myers Beach on Sunday morning.

By Sunday evening the storm’s course was far enough west that the EOC determined that the wind, rain and surge were not sufficient to warrant evacuation and rescinded the order. Most people who had left returned on Monday.

And the second-guessing began. "They shouldn’t have issued it at all.” "That wasn’t so bad.”

The ultimate second-guessers are the families that brought their children to the beach in the middle of the storm, letting them play in the waves while we were under high surf and rip current warnings.

What were they thinking? Even if they were somehow unaware of the official warnings, wouldn’t you look at the crashing waves and wonder if it was safe to let your children go in the water?

Common sense is not all that common it seems.

Isaac did give our area emergency preparedness plans a good workout. The Town put its plan into motion, as did the Beach Fire District. Each time you use an emergency plan you get the opportunity to fine-tune it, so this kind of dry run is beneficial for all of us.

How did your personal emergency plan work this week?

While the storm passed us early in the week, we have had continued high surf all week, hampering cleanup after the storm. Town staff is out clearing storm debris. They’ve asked that Islanders and visitors use caution until it can all be cleaned up. Again, a little common sense goes a long way. Be careful out there this holiday weekend!

Let’s all be grateful that this was just a dry run.

08/23/2012 at 3:23pm Delete

Be Ready

It must be hurricane season. The weather media is buzzing. The line for hurricane re-entry passes at Town Hall is getting longer. Even weather skeptics are keeping an eye on those 5-day forecasts.

Words like cone, shear, wind gusts and POD are coffee shop fodder.

Isaac is the cause of this increased attention. Even while the storm’s path and its effects on our area are unclear, it’s a worthy reason to finally pay some attention to hurricane season that began way back on June 1.

While you may not be aware of it, your local government –town, fire district, county, EMS and more – have already put their disaster preparation plans into motion. They are certainly aware of the potential threat to our area.

Maybe, just maybe, Isaac will move residents to do some preparation of their own.

Preparation besides where the party will be.

Our island has some serious baggage when it comes to hurricanes. Charley roared ashore in 2004 as a Category 4 hurricane at Cayo Costa, northwest of Estero Island. Wind and surge on Estero Island were strong enough to destroy buildings, businesses, and streets and left behind serious flooding and damage whose effects you can still see along Estero Blvd.

Charley caused infrastructure damage on Fort Myers Beach that led Town officials to block re-entry to the island for several days. Downed power lines, raw sewage in the streets from broken sewer lines and pump stations without power –that kind of damage.

Blocking people from returning to their homes caused no small amount of anger among residents who had left the island when encouraged to do so. They wanted to be able to check their homes for damage and were unable to cross the bridge. That anger led to a sea change in Town government at the next election.

The Charley experience led to better preparation all around for public safety and local government. It served as a massive wake up call for area residents and public officials.

08/16/2012 at 4:14pm Delete

More Than Hammers And Nails

The Editorial this week is written by Ross Connelly, member of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

How long did it take? Twenty seconds, a half a minute, barely a minute? The time between when James Holmes allegedly threw a teargas canister and shot off enough rounds of ammunition to kill 12 people and wound better than 50 others in a crowded Aurora, Colo., movie theater at midnight went quickly. An apparent self-proclaimed dark knight spewed more than enough deadly force in seconds to make a dark night for those inside, their families and the country.

What can be said about such horror, about such insanity?

Nothing, or nothing comes to mind.

The reactions to the unspeakable act Holmes’ allegedly committed, however, are not in short supply.

One of the first points made was that law enforcement officials and other public officials wondered how security could be increased at public venues such as movie theaters.

Yes, of course, all of us want to feel secure — to not have to think of our personal safety — when we venture from our homes to go out to a movie, to dinner in a restaurant, to a sporting event, for a walk down the street, for a drive. Who among us wants to have to worry whether we will be safe from the actions of a deranged person? Who among us wants to look over a shoulder to see who is coming in the establishment’s door as opposed to savoring the food on the plate at the table? Who wants to marvel at the athleticism of a double play, while also looking furtively at the people mingling at the grandstand’s entrances?

Short of having secret police among us, there is probably no way to thwart the madness the grips the minds of some, but as repressive regimes in history have never been able to secure their own longevity, even a Gestapo is no guarantee of safety for those who are willing to go along to get along.

08/09/2012 at 2:32pm Delete

We are at the half way mark of the 2012 campaign. At least for voters, it’s the halfway mark. On Tuesday, August 14, we finally have the chance to voice our opinion on a variety of elections locally, regionally and statewide.

There seems to be a widely accepted belief that this election is the Republican Primary and if you’re not a Republican, you can’t vote.

Not true.

Democrats and those with no party affiliation also have the chance to weigh in at the voting booth on August 14.

To be sure, Republicans will get a say in more races than anyone else for there are a lot more contested races on their primary ballot. Everyone though will vote for School Board members, judges and State Representative for District 76.

If you have a vote by mail ballot, make sure it’s turned in by 7pm Tuesday, August 14th. If you want to vote early, you have until tomorrow, Saturday, August 11th at 5pm. Early voting places are open today, Friday from 10am-6pm and tomorrow, Saturday from 9am-5pm. After that, you’ll have to go to your polling place on Tuesday. There are now only two polling places on Fort Myers Beach –District 81 at Ascension Church and District 82 at Chapel by the Sea.

Not sure you should bother voting? Spend just a few minutes contemplating the people of Syria or Afghanistan and how badly the people of those countries want the right to vote and control their own destiny. Or maybe think about the people of our own country who 200 years ago were not allowed to vote because of their gender or skin color.

Our right to vote is one of our most precious and envied privileges. Exercise your rights, vote!