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Monday, 18 September 2017

CERT Update - FEMA Assistance

Subject: What To Expect When You Register For FEMA Disaster Assistance

From Polk County Commissioners


Contact:       Kevin Watler, Communications Specialist, PCFR PIO
What To Expect When You Register For FEMA Disaster Assistance
Bartow, Fla. (September 18, 2017) — Polk County residents who experienced property damage or loss directly caused by Hurricane Irma can register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance, even if the property is insured. Homeowners and renters may qualify. 
Residents may register for assistance by visiting Alternatively, the following toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST) seven days a week until further notice:
·       Call 800-621-3362
·       People who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 800-462-7585
·       For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362
FEMA assistance for individuals may include grants for rent, temporary housing and home repairs to their primary residences, as well as funding for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or funeral costs. If you have insurance, FEMA may still be able to assist with disaster-related expenses that were underinsured or not covered by your policy.
After you apply, a FEMA inspector will contact you to schedule an inspection. The inspection generally takes 30-40 minutes or less and consists of a general verification of your disaster-related losses and a review of ownership or residence records. There is no fee for the inspection.
When a FEMA housing inspector comes to visit your home, be sure they show you proper identification. All FEMA inspectors have prominent photo identification badges. If you suspect someone is posing as a FEMA housing inspector, call our toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or call local law enforcement officials.
Once the inspection process is complete, your situation will be reviewed by FEMA. You will receive a letter by email or physical mail, depending on your preference, which outlines the decision about your claim.
Know that you may receive a visit from more than one inspector throughout the recovery process. In addition to FEMA housing inspectors, representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, state and local officials and inspectors for private insurance coverage also visit neighborhoods in affected areas.
What is the inspection process?
If you do not have insurance to cover your disaster related damages, an inspection is required to process your application. An inspector will contact you to make an appointment to visit your property within 10 to 14 days after you apply. For complete information about the inspection process, go to to find more information about the inspection process.
The inspector will assess disaster related damage for your real and personal property. There is no fee for the inspection. Inspectors are contractors, not FEMA employees, but your inspector will have picture identification.
It is not required that you be present for the inspection. You can make arrangements with the inspector for someone else to accompany the inspector in your absence, either a relative or friend over 18 years of age. Please be sure your phone/contact information is current.
Inspectors file your report but do not determine your eligibility. The inspector usually looks at the damaged areas of the home and records that information in the computer as part of the inspection process. There may be times when photos of the undamaged areas are helpful in regards to the overall safety and livability of the home. Inspectors will maintain personal safety and will not enter unsafe areas of the home.
Have these items ready and in a place where you will easily find:
·       Owners: Proof of ownership (your deed, tax records, mortgage payment book, or a copy of your dwelling’s insurance policy for the address, showing you as the owner)
·       Owners and renters: Proof of occupancy (recent utility bills in your name at that address, your driver’s license address, any first-class government mail sent to you within the last 3 months at that address, or recent utility bills in your name at that address) and insurance policies
·       Renters only: Lease agreement
For more recovery information visit FEMA’s Hurricane Irma web page at

Saturday, 16 September 2017

One More CERT Update from Polk County

Good Morning to All,

As part of the recovery phase of Hurricane Irma several PODs (points of distribution) have been opened throughout Polk County.  Attached is the updated report from this morning which lists all the POD sites.  Please pass this information on to anyone who may need these resources.  Any CERT teams that wish to assist at these sites feel free to do so.  Be sure you check in with the director at the POD location to track your hours and also turn in your hours to the CERT office as usual.  Again thank you for all you have done to assist your community during this time. 

Stay Safe,

Kathy Drainville
Public Education Officer
Polk County Fire Rescue
1295 Brice Blvd
Bartow, Florida 33830
Office: 863-534-CERT (2378)

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Power is up at LPV and another update from CERT

I just received an e-mail from Bruce Carpenter who says power has been restored to LPV!  - Rich Gibbons

Link to

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Two new updates through Rich Gibbons from TECO and The Ledger

Below is a statement on the TECO power outage from their website.  The customers affected in the Mulberry area is down from over 10,000 to 6,438. They are predicting that everybody will have service restored by midnight on Sunday the 17th

Rick Gibbons

We are estimating that essentially all customers will be back in service by the end of this weekend. Due to the magnitude of the storm and the significant rebuilding of the system required, some customers may take longer to restore.
To restore service safely, efficiently and as quickly as possible, restoration efforts must be completed in a systematic manner. We give emphasis to public safety, law enforcement and essential services, as well as working outages that impact the largest numbers of customers. If smaller outages can be completed quickly, those are worked too. Smaller and more complex outages will take longer to restore.
We have over 280,000 man hours of work to repair the damage to get customers back in service. We understand customers are looking for specific restoration information to plan and we will work to provide that information as restoration progresses and further damage is assessed.
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  • Call 1-877-588-1010 to report your outage at any time.

Percentage of customers with power


LPV CERT: Forward from the Ledger 9/13/2017

Two generator incidents send 4 to hospitals; after-storm and cleanup dangers surround us   By Marilyn Meyer   Posted Sep 12, 2017 at 10:53 PM
  Two Lake Alfred residents were in serious to critical condition and two southwest Lakeland residents were in fair condition Tuesday after separate incidents of exposure to carbon-monoxide gas coming off generators set up in garages.
Polk County Fire Rescue responded to the two incidents Tuesday morning and took the four people to area hospitals, said Kevin Watler, communications specialists for Polk County Fire Rescue. He did not know to which hospitals the four were taken.
“The two hospitalized from Lake Alfred were discovered by co-workers after employees didn’t show up for work,” Watler said.
In both incidents, the generators were in enclosed garages, he said.“Portable generators are useful during power outages, but improper use can be risky,” Watler said.
Running the generators produces carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless gas that you cannot see.
In enclosed spaces, the gas can build up very quickly, according to the Florida Department of Health, which warns if you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away, don’t delay by opening windows or turning on fans to ventilate the enclosure.
Here is what you should know• Generators and gas grills should be operated in well-ventilated locations, outdoors, away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
• Never use a generator or gas grill in an attached garage, even with the door open.
• Place generators so that exhaust fumes cannot enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
• Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
Other dangers associated with portable generators include electrical shock, electrocution and fire hazards.
• Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
• Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled. Store the containers outside of living areas. Propane tanks should also be turned off when not in use and stored outdoors.
Do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system without a licensed electrician providing a means to connect. Improper wiring creates the danger of back feeding the power system, energizing downed lines and fatally electrocuting anyone who contacts those lines.
Other dangers:  There are many other dangers that can sicken people or send them to hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers during the cleanup period following a major storm.
To help prevent injuries, infections and disease, here is a compilation of tips from Lakeland Regional Health and officials from other local utility, public health and fire departments.
Minimize water use: Until the county returns to full power, it is important to minimize water usage to prevent and reduce the risk of sewer system backups in homes.
Lakeland Regional Health officials recommend limiting use of dishwashers, sinks, washing machines, showers and toilets (flush solid waste but reduce flushing of urine).
In addition, Polk County Utilities recommends hand-washing clothing if you can, rather than using the washing machine, shortening showers or bathing on alternative days and using hand sanitizers when possible rather than washing hands.
Downed power lines: Look for downed power lines in your area, and remember they may be concealed by flood waters or fallen debris.
Lakeland Electric adds: Do not try to move them out of the way, even with “insulated” materials. Do not drive over them.
Standing water: All standing water is considered dirty and contaminated with germs, so stay out of it, Lakeland Regional Health officials warn. Avoid contact with your mouth and skin, especially if you have any skin breaks. Wash with soap and clean water after exposure.
It is impossible to know how deep the water is, or whether dangerous debris is hidden beneath the surface. In addition, standing water may contain snakes and other wild animals in distress. Bites may need immediate medical attention.
Drinking water: If your drinking-water well is underwater, assume it may be contaminated until the water recedes and you complete the decontamination process, according to Lakeland Regional Health officials. Boil water at a rolling boil for one minute to ensure safety for drinking and cooking.
If you are in an area without power and have received a boil water notice, Polk County Public Utilities advises you can disinfect the tap water by adding eight drops, about one-eighth of a teaspoon, of unscented household bleach per gallon of water and let it stand for at least 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, repeat. Keep the cap on the container or keep it covered.
Cooking: The Lakeland Fire Department warns that propane gas cooking canisters, gas grills and charcoal barbecue grills need to be used outdoors and not in a garage or other partially enclosed space.
Other tips from Lakeland Regional Health officials include:
Traffic lights: If a traffic light is out or possible malfunctioning, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Drive only when absolutely necessary.
Trees: When cutting down damaged tree limbs, be aware limbs are heavier and more dangerous than they appear. Chainsaws should only be used if in good working order and by those familiar with the potential dangers.
Using open flames: Be careful when using candles to light your home, especially if you have small children or pets. Never leave an open flame unattended (don’t fall asleep when a candle is burning) or near any flammable materials.
Gas Lines: Report the smell of gas (“rotten egg”) by calling 911, open windows and leave the area.  If there is an emergency situation, the emergency departments at all Polk County hospitals are operating normally and most urgent care centers have reopened.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Couple of more updates from Rich and Pam

I just cc’d you and Frank on what is likely our last report to Polk County EOC.  The Team has performed our damage assessment operation and it is remarkable how little damage we have sustained. The people we have talked with are only complaining about the lack of power.  I have cell comms with the team but texts and e-mail and calls are going through at a very retarded rate because of high traffic volume.  All in all we have been very fortunate.  BTW. I sent a message out several days ago to Ignore JOSE because it would not come close to the US Mainland.

LPV Mulberry @ 1010 hrs 9/11/2017

RPTD by TL Pamela Hanvik via Mobile to DC Rick Gibbons

Initial Damage assessment complete.

No injuries reported to the Team by many of the LPV residents we have spoken with. None anticipated.

Some minor damages to homes but all are habitable.

Only discomfort is lack of power.

One aluminum light pole broken at the base and leaning against a tree in vicinity of 288 & 311 Lake Erie Dr & the bocce ball court.  Area has been surround with caution tape and traffic rerouted. LPV park manager will report to TECO and understands this is low priority.

An apparent telephone or CATV junction box is laying on the ground at 313 Lake Erie Dr. (low priority)

Weather is improving with no rain and sun from time to time.

Unlikely we will issue additional reports at this time unless requested.

Preliminary Update from Rich Gibbons and Pam Hanvick

From Lake Pointe Village / Mulberry

I have just had cell comms with my TL Pamela Hanvick and she asked me to prepare this preliminary report.

No injuries reported among LPV residents.

No major structural damage observed in quick golf cart rides along our Red and Blue observation routes.

No road blockages.

No electrical power but we do have mobile and text services although texts are slow to send and receive.

Some small trees and signs down.

Some siding, shutters, and aluminum damage, but all classified as relatively minor.

No reports of flooding or high water.