Hurricane Irma: Broward mayor says many roads still unsafe
By Larry Barszewski and Anthony ManContact Reporters Sun Sentinel
Many roads are not in good shape, Mayor Barbara Sharief said Monday afternoon. “They are not safe,” she said. Many are not passable because of flooding or downed trees and powerlines, she said.
“We have some major road blockages throughout Broward County,” Sharief said. “We’re clearing them as fast as we can.”
She said the situation would be better by Tuesday, when many people will be returning to work. But she couldn’t promise problem-free passage by then.
Sharief said people should “stay away” from areas around the Intracoastal Waterway because of heavy damage in some adjacent areas. Sharief said there were reports Monday of cars getting stuck on State Road A1A in Fort Lauderdale in sand from the beach that has blown across the road.
County officials have said most traffic lights are out and there are widespread reports of trees down.
“This is not the time to be sightseeing. We still have debris and flood water and downed signals and power lines,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Timothy Keefe.
TRANSPORTATION: Broward Transit bus service will resume a weekday schedule on Tuesday, but it will operate only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Express bus service to and from Miami will also operate on those hours.
The paratransit service will also resume Tuesday, Sharief said. People with already scheduled pickups need to reconfirm those arrangements, she said.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will open Tuesday at 4 a.m.
Pending the outcome of inspections, the ship channel at Port Everglades will be reopened re-opened sometime Monday. Four cruise ships whose return to Port Everglades by the storm are now slated to return to port on Tuesday and Wednesday.
CURFEW: Broward County has lifted its curfew. “We don’t believe we’ll reimpose a curfew at this time,” Sharief said at midday Monday. She said county officials don’t like to impose curfews, something that was done immediately before, during and after the storm to ensure public safety. “Right now, we feel pretty safe,” she said.
The county imposed the curfew at 4 p.m. Saturday as tropical storm-force winds topping 40 mph began to arrive.
FAKE FPL WORKERS: Sharief said people need to be cautious about people seeking to enter their homes impersonating Florida Power & Light Co. workers.
“There are reports of people impersonating FPL workers asking to enter people’s homes. FPL workers do not ask to go into people’s houses,” Sharief said.
She advised asking for identification if someone is on their property claiming to be an FPL worker.
DEBRIS: Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief said Monday that people should resist the temptation to immediately remove the debris from their yards. Leave it there for now, she advised.
Sharief said it is a safety issue. Until city and county governments and Florida Power & Light Co. have completed their assessments, it could be dangerous for people to move their yard debris to the side of the road. They might find debris tangled up in electric power lines, and it is possible they could be hiding live power, said Sharief and Juliet Roulhac, regional manager of external affairs for FPL.
Most people live in cities, and debris removal decisions are up to those governments, Sharief said. Announcements with in-structions will be forthcoming, she said. “Debris pickups will be announced by your city,” Sharief said. “The first priority will be high traffic corridors in the worst condition.”
“We’ll be telling you at a later time,” Sharief said. “Leave it alone for right now.”
the time, the county is accepting debris drop offs. She said the Broward landfill at 7101 SW 205th Ave. near Sheridan Street and U.S. 27 in west Broward is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is accepting storm debris.
FUEL: Port Everglades, which receives and distributes fuel to 12 counties, has two fuel terminals up and running, Sharief said. Fuel that was in the port before Hurricane Irma is being sent out of the port on trucks. Officials don’t know when the port will reopen for incoming fuel tankers.
Sharief said there is plenty of fuel — a message she repeated several times at a midday news briefing at the county Emergency Operations Center. “There is not a fuel shortage in Broward County. I want to re-peat: there is not a fuel shortage in Broward County,” she said. “We do not have a fuel shortage so please do not panic.”
STORES: Publix planned to have all its stores in Broward re-opened by noon Friday, Sharief said. Some Walgreens are open and the rest are expected to be open by 5 p.m., Sharief said. Walmarts at 1199 Federal Highway in Pompano Beach and 7900 W. McNab Road in North Lauderdale are open. CVS stores open by mid afternoon: 3090 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park; 5501 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderhill; and 2801 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
FOUR-WAY STOPS: Sheriff Scott Israel said as he toured the county Monday morning to assess the situation he saw general adherence to the rule requiring people to treat in-operative traffic lights as four-way stops. But, he said, far too many are heading through the intersections without stopping.
He said he suspects it’s a combination of people not knowing how to operate — and some who simply don’t care. “Getting somewhere five minutes early” is not worth the potential price of a catastrophic accident.
Later Monday, Sharief said non-compliance is a continuing problem. “Stop, look both ways, treat it as a four-way stop sign.”
She said disregard of that rule is causing problems. “We’ve seen crashes as a result of that,” she said, adding she did not have any numbers reflecting accidents.
LOOTING: Israel said county residents did an excellent job complying with instructions from authorities before the storm. “There was a group of people who really didn’t comply. They are called looters,” Israel said. He said there have been scattered reports of looting in addition to the one case that got lots of television attention when people looted from stores on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale at the height of the storm.
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He said he has instructed his director of investigations to review all video of looting. The aim is to “prosecute, arrest, and ultimately convict,” he said. “If you looted, and we find out who you are, you will go to jail, which is where you should be.”
ADVICE: Shareif said the county had the following advice:
— Stay off the roads unless you are a recovery team responder or it is absolutely necessary.
— Report stray animals or the level of damage to homes by calling 311. The county also has an online home damage assessment survey.
— Tip containers with standing water to prevent creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus.
— Treat all downed power lines as “live” and do not go near them; avoid walking through flooded streets or standing water.
— Avoid unstable buildings and structures and wear protective gear for cleanup.