Commissioner Murman mentioned in this StPetersBlog article on debris pickup:

 

Hillsborough Commissioners urge patience on debris pickup

by Mitch Perry

 

While it’s been less than a month since Hurricane Irma’s strong winds brushed through Florida, Hillsborough County Commissioners are getting an earful from constituents questioning when debris gathered in front of their homes will be picked up.

Irma blew over the Tampa Bay area the night of September 10. Just eight days later, two companies hired for debris removal — AshBritt and Phillips & Jordan — began the cleanup process.

“My office was originally told it would take 2-3 weeks for the first pass through. Then it was three weeks, then it was four weeks, and then last week I was told it would be mid-November before it would be completed,” said County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

It appears that we’re making significant steps towards clearing the debris,” he added. “But, candidly, when I drive through at least the northwest part of the county, I do not see it.”

Hagan also decried the lack of timely information on the county’s website when it came to informing the public about the status of debris pickup, calling it “inadequate.”

While the city of Tampa and Pasco and Pinellas counties have maps giving updates on the cleanup, Hillsborough does not, prompting Commission Chair Stacy White to agree with Hagan that “communications have to be better.”

County Administrator Mike Merrill said he took full responsibility for any failure of communications. He said part of the problem was the sheer magnitude of the debris that has accumulated, the huge size of the county, the unavailability of resources and the fact that the debris clearing companies have only been on the job for two weeks. “That’s not an excuse, just a fact,” he said.

The amount of the debris countywide may be unprecedented, with over 600,000 cubic yards scattered throughout the region. Merrill described the total mass of it as being the size of Raymond James Stadium and the height of the county center.

Public Works Director John Lyons said that there are currently 56 contractor crews now operating throughout the county, supplemented with 10 county crews. To date, over 112,000 yards of vegetation has been picked up.

Unlike other Tampa Bay area communities, AshBritt and Phillips Jordan have not bailed out on Hillsborough County to make more money by going to other parts of the state with more significant needs.

However, subcontractors not directly under contract with the county have left the region, resulting in subcontractor crews with smaller trucks that allow them to pick up smaller amounts of debris.

Although the commissioners agreed that no additional funding was needed to speed up the process, Merrill did say that he has informed the two debris contractors to go ahead and pickup trash in gated communities. That’s despite the fact that FEMA requires preapproval in those gated communities to get reimbursed, which he said took approximately 3-4 weeks.

“So I made the decision to tell contractors to just pick them up,” Merrill said, admitting that it could result in the county not being fully reimbursed for the entire cleanup.

Commissioners Les Miller and Sandy Murman, both residents of Tampa, said that they have not had debris picked up from their own homes, and urged patience, referring to the “huge, huge, huge” size of the county in Miller’s words.

“This doesn’t happen overnight, and you just can’t clean it up overnight,” Miller said, ignoring the fact that the majority of the debris did happen overnight September 10 into the next day.

Officials said things would get better soon.

Lyons may use Solid Waste haulers to work on Sundays to help out in the effort, saying Merrill promised that the county’s communications staff would come up with a plan to inform the board by the end of this week.

 

Commissioner Murman mentioned in this WFLA article on upcoming Job Fair:

 

40 employers expected for 3rd Annual County Job Fair in Tampa

By WFLA Web StaffPublished: October 3, 2017, 8:17 pm

 

 

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Forty employers are expected to participate in this year’s County Job Fair.

The job fair is presented by Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, in association with CareerSource Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Community College.

Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Amgen, Macy’s Logistics and Operations, ChildCare Careers and Hillsborough County Public Schools are just some of the employers expected to participate.

The 2017 County Job Fair is free and open to the public and will take place October 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the HCC Dale Mabry Campus, located at 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd.

 

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tampa Bay Times article on Governor’s support of opioid crisis:

 

Rick Scott announces support for new legislation, $50 million to fight opioid crisis

By Langston Taylor and Steve Bousquet, Times Staff Writers

 

Published: September 26, 2017

Updated: September 26, 2017 at 07:43 PM

 

Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding.

“We’ve got to do more education of our prescribers. We’ve got to help our substance abuse centers. We’ve got to help law enforcement,” Scott said.

The new $50 million would go toward drug treatment, counseling and the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council, which recommends initiatives to fight major crimes.

The new proposals include a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions; mandating that doctors who prescribe pain pills take part in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program — a program Scott opposed when he took office — and a new regulatory fight against unlicensed prescribers.

Limiting unnecessary opioid prescriptions is key to preventing people from developing addictions, doctors say.

But Tampa psychiatrist Jamie Fernandez warned against “one-size-fits-all” prescription limits.

“While limiting a prescribing pattern will be helpful, we also need to be mindful of the need for more individualized treatment,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez moderated panel discussions Tuesday at the Hillsborough County Opioid Summit, a gathering of medical and mental health experts and law enforcement officials organized by County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Murman learned of the governor’s announcement during the event, and thought his proposals were “all good” strategies for fighting opioid addiction.

Florida has seen opioid overdose deaths spike in the last four years, recently surpassing the levels seen in the pill mill heydey in and around 2010, according to the state’s Medical Examiners Commission. Opioids killed 3,896 Floridians in 2015, the most in a decade, and a May report estimated more than 5,300 such deaths in 2016.

Dina Swanson, assistant chief forensic toxicologist at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s office, said in 2010, oxycodone and alprazolam were the primary problems. Now they’re heroin and fentanyl.

Fentanyl, which drug dealers often put in heroin, is 50 to 100 times as powerful as morphine. Swanson also said she’s coming across more victims of Carfentanil, which is 10,000 times as powerful. Two milligrams are enough to knock out a wild African Elephant, she said.

Those substances are driving a significant increase in overdoses, Swanson said. The county is on pace for 225 drug overdoses in 2017, she said, up from 197 the year before.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said the county can’t just arrest its way out of the drug epidemic.

“This is a public health crisis, not a criminal justice crisis,” he said. He lauded expanding prescription drug monitoring programs and pushing for rehabilitation and treatment rather than harsh punishments for drug users.

But such treatment will take a lot more investment at the federal and local levels, said Tom Hill, vice president of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Hill said the outsized impact of heroin on white, middle class communities compared to prior drug epidemics brings more political attention, and lawmakers should “leverage this moment” to take action.

Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, recounted his own recovery from addiction — he’s 19 years, six months and two days sober — and demanded more aggressive treatment.

“Ten to 12 people are dying every day in this state,” he said. “And what are we doing about it?”

In a news release, Scott said his own family “struggled with substance abuse.”

“As states across the country continue to fight this national epidemic, we must make sure Florida is doing our part to help vulnerable individuals and keep our families safe,” he said.

Told that patients will be forced to pay more out of their pockets for co-payments if prescriptions are limited to a three-day supply, Scott said: “We’ll work with the insurance companies … but let’s think about this. These are people (who) are dying. These are people losing their lives.”

Fernandez, the Tampa doctor, said medical professionals know what treatments work but need to remove barriers to access. She hoped the state would work with local governments to improve coverage.

In 2011, the governor called on state legislators to repeal a law mandating the prescription drug monitoring programhe now wants to bolster.

Asked about his previous opposition, Scott cited changes in the past few years to the original database law.

“We’ve passed legislation that created more security for people, and so I think it’s the right thing to be doing now. But we have a lot more precautions now.”

Murman was glad he came around.

“I think he’s for it because he knows it’s another tool in the toolbox you’ve got to use if you’re really going to curb the epidemic,” she said.

Contact Langston Taylor at ltaylor@tampabay.com. Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com. Tines staff writer Kirby Wilson and senior researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this 83degrees article on job fairs:

 

innovation & job news

October job fairs target unemployed, underemployed

CHERYL ROGERS | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

 

Sandy Murman, second from left, organizes job fairs to get people back to work.

 

Whether you’re unemployed or underemployed, an upcoming job fair might help you get back on track. There are several scheduled soon in the Tampa Bay Area.

“Underemployment is a big issue, and the people are looking,” says Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman of District 1.

Murman has organized a job fair Friday, October 13, in conjunction with CareerSource Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Community College.

“There are people that are still not employed, that need employment, and we’re here to help,” she says.

The event is free to both employers and jobseekers. “The employers need to call us as soon as possible if they are interested in being at the job fair, and making their jobs available, because we do have limited space,” she says.

She’s expecting about 45 employers and possibly 800 to 900 job seekers. A wide range of positions will be available including fulltime, part-time and contract.

The job fair, slated from 8:30 a.m. to noon at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus at 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa, is Murman’s third in that Tampa location. She’s already held six in southern Hillsborough, which was hard hit in the 2008 recession as construction ebbed.

 

To find out the employers that will be in attendance, check out Murman’s website or call her office at 813-272-5470. Those who need help preparing can contact her office to be connected with those that can help.

 

Jobseekers, who may be hired on the spot, do not need to register.

Following the event, the fair will be virtual from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and can be accessed on personal computers or at the public libraries. Visit her website and look for the link, which will be live when it’s available.

Florida Joblink Career also has a couple of events scheduled in the Tampa Bay region, the first one from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 5, atCourtyard By Marriott University Parkway, 850 University Pkwy, Sarasota. The event focuses on Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton. It is free to jobseekers.

 

The second event is planned for the Tampa, Brandon, Lakeland and surrounding areas Wednesday, October 11. The company, which places an emphasis on diversity, is holding the event from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa. Admission is free for jobseekers.

Some of the careers included in both events are sales, management, customer service, insurance, education, government, IT, human resources, engineering, blue collar and clerical.

Learn more about these events here.

 

Here are some other job fairs scheduled in Tampa:

  • Tampa Career Fair is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 17, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Learn more about the event by National Career Fairs here.
  • The Job News Job Fair is slated October 24 at George M. Steinbrenner Field, One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at JobNewsUSA.
  • A Tampa Career Fair is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. October 25 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport Tampa. The event by Best Hire Career Fairsis free. It caters to lots of different industries including accounting, banking, consulting, education, technology, public administration, tourism, video game and web services.

 

 

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tampa Bay Times article on Opioid Summit:

 

Opioid Summit looks to focus on solutions to crisis

  • By Kenya Woodard, Times Correspondent

Monday, September 25, 2017 9:22am

 

TAMPA — An upcoming conference about the opioid crisis will offer information and resources that healthcare officials and government leaders say can help dispel stigmas related to addiction and help those afflicted seek treatment.

Tuesday’s Opioid Summit at T. Pepin Hospitality Center will feature key addresses from Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Phillip and renowned addiction expert Dr. Mark Gold. The event is free and open to the public. The conference brings together healthcare workers, physicians, public health officials, and members of law enforcement to discuss solutions to the opioid problem, said Susan Morgan, spokeswoman for Gracepoint, a mental health wellness center.

“There’s a lot of training and education that needs to be done,” she said. “The more we can talk about it, we can start to have those breakthroughs.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, unlocking $27 million in federal funds for prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Legislators also passed two bills this spring attacking the problem: one increases penalties for traffickers of fentanyl, a synthetic cousin of heroin that is far more deadly; another cracks down on unscrupulous owners of halfway houses.

Similar conferences are taking place throughout the state but the Hillsborough gathering is especially timely: there was a 69 percent increase in heroin-related deaths from 2014 to 2015 in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

The crisis’ ripple can be felt far beyond the families and friends of those who struggle with addiction, Morgan said.

“There are employers who can’t find employees because they can’t pass the drug test,” she said.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who organized the event, said the spike in the number of opioid-related deaths is “just awful”.

“(Opioid crisis) is a big issue for this area with the number of deaths,” she said. “We need an action plan.”

The conference offers a chance to further examine how local government can respond, including matching state and federal funds, she said.

The influx of federal money is “a game-changer” that opens new pathways to treatment for Gracepoint’s clients who seek help through its partner Agency for Community Treatment Services, Morgan said.

“If the detox is full, we can start the process while they’re waiting or if they don’t have insurance they can still get treatment,” she said.

Summits are helpful in bringing not only awareness to the problem but also shedding the stigma that comes with addiction, Morgan said.

“We have to combat the stigma,” she said. “There’s one conclusion and that is although addiction is chronic, it is treatable.”

 

Commissioner Murman mentioned in this StPetersBlog article on the Opioid Summit:

 

Hillsborough schedules summit to tackle opioid crisis

 

by Mitch Perry

 

As is the case throughout Florida and the country, opioid abuse has exploded in Hillsborough County over the past few years.

“The State of the Opioid Crisis in Hillsborough County” is a daylong summit to address the rising public health issue by featuring medical, mental health and law enforcement officials on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre.

In late 2014, overdoses in the county began to spike. By 2016, 185 of the county’s 197 fatal drug overdoses involved opioid use, a rate of one fatal opioid overdose every two days. An increasing number of fatal overdoses involve heroin and fentanyl. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner has recorded 18 deaths associated with fentanyl in 2017 from Jan. 1 through July 31.

The summit includes a panel discussion with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office. It’s being organized by Suncoast Community Health Centers. Welcoming remarks will come from Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who championed bringing the event to Hillsborough County.

An increasing number of fatal overdoses involve heroin and fentanyl. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner has recorded 18 deaths associated with fentanyl from Jan. 1 through July 31 of 2017.

Statewide, opioids were the direct cause of death of 2,538 Floridians and contributed to an additional 1,358 deaths in 2015, the last year data is available.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a public health emergency over the opioid crisis back in May, several years into the epidemic.

Featured speakers at the Hillsborough summit include Dr.Benjamin Nordstrom, senior vice president at Phoenix House, Tom Hill, vice president of addiction and recovery for the National Council for Behavioral Health, and Dr. Mark Gold, chairman of the RiverMend Health Scientific Advisory Board.

The summit will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 N. 50th St. in Tampa. Attendance is free, but reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP, contact Amy Nizamoff at anizamoff@suncoast-chc.org or (813) 653-6206

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this StPetersBlog article on Hurricane Irma:

 

Irma causes estimated $9 million in Hillsborough property damage

by Mitch Perry

 

Even though Hurricane Irma was “downgraded” to a Category 1 storm by the time it ripped through the region last week, it has definitely made a financial impact in Hillsborough County.

Preston Cook, Hillsborough County’s director of emergency management, said Wednesday that while the storm wasn’t nearly as fierce as initially feared, Irma damaged 287 single family homes, 140 mobile homes and 14 businesses. That adds up to a total of $8.9 million in property damages to date.

The estimated costs for debris damage is now at $15 million, Cook says, a number that is also likely to grow.

At their meeting Wednesday, the board approved spending $1.25 million in costs associated with the storm: $750,000 on overtime for employees who worked throughout the storm and another $500,000 for disaster-related emergency equipment.

In assessing how they performed during the storm, Commissioner Sandy Murman said that communication needs to be improved between the county and the city of Tampa regarding evacuation orders.

Just hours before the storm was about to blast through the region on Sunday, Sept. 10, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhornand Police Chief Brian Dugan declared a curfew in the city of Tampa, beginning at 6 p.m.

Hours later, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said that was not the case — that the power to declare a curfew resided with his office, and he wasn’t declaring any curfew.

Three days earlier, Buckhorn declared a state of emergency in the city, which he said gave him the power to declare a curfew. While he didn’t order anyone to immediately evacuate at that City Hall news conference, Buckhorn made it known explicitly that those living in evacuation area Zone A would be making a “big mistake’ by not evacuating.

“This ain’t Indiana. This is serious stuff. You will die if you’re not careful, if you don’t take the appropriate steps,” he ominously warned.

Hillsborough County officials declared a state of emergency for the county later that day. The next day they announced that they would begin voluntary evacuations starting at 8 a.m. Friday for residents in Zone A who were registered for special needs shelters. Mandatory evacuations for everyone else living in Zone A happened that Saturday when the majority of shelters opened up.

“There were quite a few concerns and confusion about as we move through the process in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) about declarations of evacuations,” Murman said Wednesday at the board’s first meeting since Irma passed through. “People were confused,” said, adding that it was a “huge concern” over the 48 hours leading up to Irma’s arrival, and stated that confusion needed to be cleared up in preparation for the next major storm that will inevitably take aim at the Tampa Bay area.

Commissioners were lavish in praising Tampa Electric Company, even though some residents in the county did not receive power back until last weekend.

“If it was a competition with Duke Energy, you definitely won,” Murman proclaimed.

Commissioner Victor Crist also took a dig at Pinellas County’s government, saying that he was not happy in attempting to get information from officials there as he tried to aid his elderly father.

“It’s amazing that one bridge can separate two different markets as vastly different as it does,” he said.

Crist also said he was unhappy to learn that some of the public schools used as shelters during the storm were trashed, saying he’d like to know who was responsible.

“That type of behavior is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Monday that the path of Hurricane Irma “could not have been more lethal” to the state’s farmers and the scope of damage to the state’s fruits and vegetables is unprecedented.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham said he is extremely concerned about the agriculture industry: “I’m seeing strawberry fields that don’t have plants in them.”

Some Hillsborough County rivers suffered from post-storm flooding. The Little Manatee river sustained less flooding than some of the other rivers, prompting Commissioner Pat Kemp to suggest that perhaps it was because more ELAPP lands were surrounding it. ELAPP is a land acquisition and protection program in the county.

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tampa Bay Times article on hurricane recovery spending:

 

Hillsborough okays $1.25 million in Hurricane Irma-related spending with more to come

 

Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 11:19am

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners approved $1.25 million in expenses related to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday with many more costs expected to come.

The county will spend $750,000 on overtime for employees who worked throughout the storm and another $500,000 for disaster-related emergency equipment.

The money was pulled from a $3 million fund set aside for emergencies. It doesn’t cover other expenses from the aftermath of the storm like debris pickup, flooding and damage.

There’s more than 1 million yards of debris to pick up, public works director John Lyons said, which is about what the county normally collects in one and a half years. It may take four weeks or longer to get to all of it, he said.

About 35 waste water pumps that were without power overflowed during the storm and it’s not yet clear how much sewage may have spilled out.

An early assessment found about $9 million in damage to homes and businesses. About 290 single family homes and 140 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed, said emergency operations director Preston Cook.

The damage would have likely been much worse had Hurricane Irma followed its projected path through the heart of Tampa Bay, county leaders acknowledged. Nevertheless, the event was a live test of the county’s emergency protocols, including the new emergency operations center that opened this year.

At its height, Hillsborough had 45 shelters opened servicing 30,000 residents.

“It was scary, it was big and we really took it seriously,” Cook said.

Commissioners and county staff lauded efforts by TECO to restore power to customers swiftly, noting the prolonged outages many Duke Energy customers experienced in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

“If it was a competition with Duke Energy, you definitely won,” Commissioner Sandy Murman said.

With nine weeks left in hurricane season, County Administrator Mike Merrill said his staff is assessing improvements that can be implemented immediately in case another storm hits.

Murman said the county needs to do more to ensure there are enough shelters for pets and cooling stations for seniors. She added that she hopes Gov. Rick Scott can pressure nursing homes to ensure power at their facilities during a severe weather event. Commissioner Stacy White said he wants to explore weather the county can require generators at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Commissioner Victor Crist said the county must also ensure that schools that served as shelters are left in better condition, noting that some faced problems from damage and theft.

“We didn’t dodge a bullet but we dodged a bomb,” Commissioner Pat Kemp said.

 

Commissioner Murman mentioned in this Tampa Bay Times editorial on generators in nursing homes:

 

Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:54pm

 

The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments. It’s inconceivable that this tragedy already has devolved into finger-pointing, and it will test the resolve of state government to continue to stand up for the state’s most vulnerable seniors against a powerful industry that routinely protects its bottom line.

There is no rational explanation for residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dying after being without air conditioning following Irma — and with the full-service Memorial Regional Hospital right across the street. The residents were evacuated the morning of Sept. 13 hours after the first resident was taken to the hospital. A criminal investigation is under way, and the state suspended the nursing home’s license to operate Wednesday. There should be a call to action in the state with the highest portion of residents who are 65 years old or older.

Yet just a week after this sickening loss of life, Scott is getting attacked by this very same nursing home. The industry is raising concerns about implementing the governor’s emergency rule that would take effect in less than 60 days and require the state’s 685 nursing homes and 3,109 assisted living facilities to have a generator and fuel to keep their facilities reasonably cool for at least four days following a power outage. While it’s reasonable to discuss logistics, no Floridian should fear dying in the heat in one of these facilities because the electricity goes out and there is no air conditioning following a hurricane.

The Broward nursing home defends the indefensible by pointing to calls it made Sept. 12 to the governor, which were referred to appropriate state agencies. But the detailed time line released by Scott’s office shows the nursing home reported no issues after Irma made landfall Sept. 10 even though that is the day its air conditioning system lost power. The problem was noted the following day by the nursing home administrator in a call to the state, but the state says there was no indication that conditions had become dangerous or patients were at risk. The evacuations occurred the morning of Sept. 13 after nursing home patients began arriving at the hospital.

The welfare of seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other homes after power is lost following a storm is not an isolated concern. Officials throughout Tampa Bay rechecked facilities following the news of the deaths in Broward. Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard says some of those facilities in Pinellas were not prepared for power outages, and some of their residents were taken by EMS to shelters. Hillsborough County commissioners discussed the issue Wednesday, with Sandra Murman urging Scott to remain firm in ensuring those homes have power after a storm and Stacy White suggesting the county explore whether it can require generators at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Local officials should remain vigilant, but ultimately this is a public health and safety issue for the state.

Florida can have zero tolerance for allowing nursing homes and other facilities to keep vulnerable seniors in sweltering, dangerous conditions when the power goes out. The governor’s aggressiveness in response to the Broward tragedy reflects the appropriate sense of urgency, and he and state lawmakers should not back down in requiring better.

 

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Miami Herald article on Hurricane Irma:

 

If path holds, Irma could swamp Southwest Florida, Tampa coast with surge

BY JAY WEAVER AND CHLOE HERRING

jweaver@miamiherald.com

 

SEPTEMBER 09, 2017 7:44 PM

As Hurricane Irma began assaulting Florida’s west coast Sunday, it threatened to hit the nation’s most vulnerable target for storm surge: Tampa.

Tampa is especially prone to flooding because it is low lying with a big bay and inlets that face the shallow, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And just about every other Gulf Coast community in Irma’s track — Everglades City, Naples, Cape Coral, Bradenton, Sarasota — is also at high risk.

Tampa leaders are all too aware of this scary natural phenomenon.

“Storm surge is real. I think it’s ‘You run from the water and hide from the wind,’ ” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said, urging residents to take all precautions at an emergency briefing on Saturday.

“Well, you better run from this water because if that storm surge hits six to nine feet, I know I’m going to have six feet in my house.”

Based on its track coming off the Lower Keys on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center projected storm surge — the difference between normal high tide and storm tide — reaching as high as 10 to 15 feet along Southwest Florida’s coast from Cape Sable to Captiva. The Tampa Bay area could see four to eight feet.

“If you’re in an evacuation zone, you do not want to be there when the surge comes,” NHC specialist Mike Brennan warned Gulf Coast residents. “You can lose your life. It’s as simple as that.”

The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area — Florida’s second largest — has been rated as the nation’s most vulnerable region to a major storm surge with estimated property losses of $175 billion in the event of a 100-year hurricane, according to a Boston company that specializes in assessing the risk of catastrophes.

In Tampa, the 100-year hurricane would be a Category 4 storm with winds as high as 150 miles per hour. The last major hurricane to strike the Tampa Bay area — a Category 4 with maximum winds of 140 miles per hour — was in 1921.

“A severe storm with the right-track orientation will cause an enormous buildup of water that will become trapped in the bay and inundate large areas of Tampa and St. Petersburg,” with 50 percent of their population living on ground elevations less than 10 feet, according to a 2015 report by Karen Clark & Company.

The company rated Fort Myers No. 5 in vulnerability with estimated losses of $70 billion, and Sarasota at No. 7 with losses estimated at $50 billion.

By comparison, Miami came in at No. 4 with estimated losses at $80 billion. Miami’s coastal profile is less prone to storm surge than other areas because the continental shelf falls off steeply, the report said. But its potential property losses are still high because the city boasts some of Florida’s most expensive real estate.

Irma, which earlier in the week was projected to strike South Florida, started shifting to a northwest track on Friday toward Southwest Florida. Typically, in this region, storms travel east to west or southwest to northeast — as Hurricane Charley did in 2004, when the Category 4 storm made landfall west of Fort Myers.

 
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