Category Archives: hurricane

Hurricane Irma cleanup inspired by Charles Richard Beall

You don’t need to bring gloves or any equipment.

Just show up at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Winn-Dixie parking lot, preferably wearing patriotic-themed clothing,  and prepare for hard work in honor of a local hero.

Hurricane Irma downed trees at a property occupied by the mother of Vietnam War hero Charles Richard Beall. U.S. Highway 17-92 is named in his honor.

Now his mom, 88-year-old Arbutus Beall, and her family need help, according to community activist Bret Douglas, a volunteer who runs the DeBary Legacy page on Facebook.

The DeBary businessman is asking for volunteers to help clear downed trees from her property on Monroe Avenue.

Douglas, a Gulf War-area veteran and horticulturalist, wants the cleanup to be a celebration of  Charles Richard Beall’s life.

Beall was 20 when he was fatally wounded on March 6, 1968 while storming enemy bunkers during the Viet Cong Tet Offensive.

He attacked as snipers shot at an army convoy.

As his platoon tried to rescue the convoy, Beall “rushed the bunkers, one by one, firing into them. Three bunkers were destroyed. He was killed attacking the fourth,” the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996.

That was the year U.S. 17-92 in DeBary was renamed in his honor.

A Beall relative recently reached out to Douglas for help after Irma stormed across Florida.

“I think this is worse than Matthew,” he said, referring to a powerful hurricane in October 2016. Then, as now, the burly man muscled into action.

Douglas, who owns a DeBary landscaping firm called Ironclad Landscape Management, has been highlighted on social media for working hard to help those who need it the most.

The 50-year-old volunteers in DeBary by removing trees, trimming limbs and fixing fences. He said he focuses on helping the elderly, disabled and low-income residents.

Douglas is also building a local ministry with a food bank for the needy.

He says he gets about five to six calls per week from people who need help.

“We answer them all,” Douglas said.

Anyone who wants to help Douglas clean up Arbutus Beall’s property should show up at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Winn-Dixie at 2 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd.

Douglas will lead volunteers in a prayer and provide directions to the Beall home. He’ll also provide drinks and food. And gloves.

“Just show up,” he added.

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Hurricane Irma orphaned baby squirrels in DeBary, elsewhere

 

Lisa Kestory gave the furry critter a kiss.

“When God wants to remind humans what falling love feels like, He sends a baby squirrel,” Kestory said on Facebook today.

The squirrel rehabber at Ahopha Wildlife Rescue said 22 baby squirrels, as well as other displaced animals, are being cared for at the DeLeon Springs-based nonprofit owned by Tom Scotti.

SquirrelGirl, as Kestory is called, recently set up an account on GoFundme.com to help Ahopha Wildlife Rescue rescue squirrels and other animals displaced or injured by Hurricane Irma.

Most of the rescued animals are birds, including waterfowl and sandhill cranes, as well as “lots” of baby squirrels, she wrote.

“Donations are desperately needed for rescue supplies, pet formula, nipples and syringes, medical supplies, medical care and most importantly, FUEL for the Ahopha Wildlife Rescue vehicle to be able to get to the wildlife at rescue locations all over Central Florida, so they can be taken to the local rehabbers and Veterinarians for emergency care,” the GoFundme account says.
Baby squirrels were found across west Volusia after the storm.

On Sept. 11 , the day after Irma, Ej Bielen‎ posted this on the DeBary Proud! Facebook page:
“Found a baby squirrel in the Streets on naranja and Valencia. He’s still alive and has a small injury to his tail. We bandaged him up. He had a sibling next to him that unfortunately didn’t survive due to cars driving through. Luckily we found him before the next car did. He is very young and not moving too much but looks to be breathing normal. Eyes are still closed. If anyone has any tips on how to care for him or wants to help us out please provide guidance. Thank you.”

Kestory’s call for help prompted positive responses online.

Brandy Dantas of DeLand said this to Kestory on Facebook: “Do y’all need any blankets or supplies like that no extra money right now but can see what I have around the house to donate. Would love to help out any way I can Tom does amazing work and I have brought a few baby squirrels to him in the past.”

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DeBary mayor: ‘Keep your fingers crossed!’

Mayor Bob Garcia this morning expressed optimism about electricity restoration for still-powerless neighborhoods in DeBary.

Electricity has slowly been returning to DeBary homes and businesses after Hurricane Irma downed power lines and caused other problems with distribution networks Sunday.

“I believe that based on what I see the [equipment] and supplies are coming into DeBary,” Garica said online Saturday. “Keep your fingers crossed!”

The message was posted on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! page by DeBary resident Diane M Van Auken on behalf of Garcia, who is “not on social media,” the post said.

“The power company is working hard to get All the power restored in DeBary,” said Garcia. His update also said:

  • Traders Cove has power
  • Highland Marina has partial power restored and is waiting for transformers and tree removal
  • Linemen in Terra Alta are also waiting for tree removal and transformers

“The Vistas area (where Mayor Garcia & his family live) were hit hard and are still without power,” he wrote. “There are many problems there that are being worked on before the power can be restored.”

He said it is possible homes in the Valencia Circle area may get power by tonight or no later than Sunday.

Duke Energy says it has 81,055 Volusia customers. Of those, 65,438 had power restored and 6,126 remained without electricity as of 4 p.m. Saturday. Power restoration was estimated by midnight Sunday.

Florida Power and Light said 20,670 of its 176,800 customers in Volusia County are without power as of Saturday.

According to Florida’s Department of Emergency Management:

Duke Energy had more than 1.3 million customers affected by Irma. Power has already been restored to more than 1.1 million customers.

  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for western service areas the night of Friday, Sept. 15.
  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for central and northern service areas the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.

Florida Power and Light had 4.4 million customers affected by the storm. Power has already been restored to more than 3.4 million customers.

  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the East Coast the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the West Coast by Friday, Sept. 22.

This isn’t the first time Garcia was featured on social media because of the storm.

On Saturday, as the storm approached, a Facebook user posted video of Garcia urging residents to volunteer for cleanup and repairs after Irma passed.

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‘This is the time to hunker down,’ Volusia manager says



Volusia County officials tonight urged residents to stay indoors as Hurricane Irma hammers Florida. A countywide curfew begins at 9 p.m. today and lasts until noon Monday.

“This is the time to hunker down,” said Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen.

About 4,000 people are currently in emergency shelters in Volusia County. He said the most damaging winds are expected between 11 p.m. today through 10 a.m. Monday.  Gusts of 75 miles per hour are possible.

“We strongly advise that everyone stay inside and not go out in the storm,” Dinneen said. “The ground is saturated from the rain and power lines may be down.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said officers will use “discretion and common sense” while enforcing the curfew.

“Those who are evacuating, unavoidably traveling for work or who have an urgent need to travel in the area are free to do so if absolutely necessary.” a county news release said. “The intent of the curfew is to keep people safe, discourage loitering and prevent looting – which won’t be tolerated.”

Other updates from the county:

  • All bridges in Volusia County to the beachside are closed.
  • The north causeway in New Smyrna Beach and the Main Street Bridge in Daytona Beach have westbound lanes open for those who are leaving beachside.
  • Turnbull Bay Bridge in New Smyrna Beach and Highbridge in Ormond Beach are closed.

The number for the Citizens Information Center is 866-345-0345.

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Hurricane Irma: DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia asks for help


As Hurricane Irma neared, DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia this morning urged residents to quickly complete storm preparations and volunteer if possible to help the community.

Garcia made his comments at about 9 a.m. from the parking lot of Genuine Bistro & Lounge at the crossroads of DeBary’s busiest roadways: U.S. Highway 17-92 and Highbanks Road.

He said residents should complete preparations by 5 p.m. today or, if they’re planning to evacuate, they should leave immediately.

His comments were captured by a Facebook user and posted online.

Garcia was flanked by City Commissioner Erika Benfield and workers can be seen in the background completing storm preparations.

Volusia County is facing an increased threat for tornadoes based on the latest track, according to county emergency managers.

They are expecting 8 to 12 inches of rain with some areas
receiving 15 inches.

After the storm passes and conditions are safe, residents should check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe. Garcia urged residents to clean up, but not to put debris near roadways, fire hydrants and utility poles.

He encouraged residents to join him sometime Monday after the storm passes to volunteer with cleanup efforts.

He said he expects to stage at noon Monday near the intersection to coordinate volunteers.

“I need your help,” Garcia said.  “This is not going to be sponsored by the city. This is us coming together as a community.”

Garcia made his comments shortly before a briefing by Volusia County emergency managers and Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood said Volusia County will be under a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 9 a.m. Monday.

Volusia County’s Citizens Information Center is answering questions from callers right now. The number is  866-345-0345.

“We do not want people in the water or at the beach today and in the coming days,” the county said in a news release this morning. “Beach officials are flying the double-red flag. After the
storm, please wait [for] an announcement that it is safe to visit the beach. There may be debris in the water and along the shore.”

The county said Florida Power & Light is expected widespread
destruction throughout its service area. More than 16,000 workers from nearly 30 states are responding.
“FPL expects 3.4 million customers may lose power as a result of Irma, and could experience prolonged outages, based on the current forecast,” the county said.

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DeBary proudly assembling for Hurricane Irma


Got a skill? Want to help? DeBary residents are assembling a volunteer response team in case Hurricane Irma hits.

Tentative plans call for a meeting of potential volunteers Monday night with a location and other details to be released on DeBary Proud on Facebook.

“We are hoping to have people of all skills available for storm or other natural disaster events that can help along side first responders,” Jason Clisby wrote.

Volusia County offers up-to-date information about storm preparedness, including important checklists, online.

DeBary has been hit hard by flooding in the past, even by indirect storm strikes.  As a result, millions have been spent upgrading the River City’s storm-water systems.

Even with those upgrades, DeBary could suffer widespread flooding under a major storm, Public Works Director Alan Williamson told the City Council in June.

Tropical Storm Fay dumped close to 24 inches of rain in 24 hours on parts of West Volusia in 2008, overflowing lakes, putting streets underwater and flooding 130 homes in DeBary.

Clisby issued an invitation for storm response volunteers on Sunday morning.

“If you are interested in volunteering or just getting more info, comment in this post.,” he wrote. “We will update as we have more information. We will likely call for a bigger meeting one evening this week to get everyone on the same page.”

The National Hurricane Center said this about Irma on Sunday:

  • It’s too early to say with certainty where Irma might hit in the U.S. mainland, though projections show it aiming at Florida and sitting northeast of Cuba by Friday.
  • Hurricane Irma is a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph while moving west-southwest.
  • The storm will power up as it moves over warmer water over the next three to five days.

“After 5 days, the forecast becomes much more uncertain, with most models suggesting a sharp turn north while remaining offshore,” the National Hurricane Center said this morning. “However, direct impacts to Florida can’t be ruled out as forecasts a week out are historically unreliable.”

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DeBary’s crime drops but school safety concerns persist

Crime is down in DeBary, despite a rash of car burglaries, and the River City is prepared for natural disasters. But concern remains about safety at the city’s only public school: DeBary Elementary.

Those were among the highlights of City Council member Stephen Bacon’s town hall meeting last week about public safety.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

“The budget is unlimited when it comes to people’s lives and property,” Bacon said Tuesday (July 18). “Some of these kids in grammar school could be 6 feet tall at 10 years old.”

In recent weeks, Bacon has raised concerns about safety at DeBary Elementary. He referenced the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

“It was horrible,” Bacon said. “If there’s one incident, I mean, that is a good reason why we should have” a school resource officer.

Sherrif-Mike-Chitwood

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, one of the speakers at the town hall, agreed.

“If I had my way, I’d put a deputy in every school,” Chitwood said. “It’s just not physically feasible to do that.”

He noted that when he was police chief of Daytona Beach, he snagged a grant to pay for officers in all 10 schools in the city. But the grant runs out at the end of next year. It would cost $1.6 million to keep up the same level of staffing, said Chitwood, who took office as sheriff in January.

Bacon didn’t say how a school resource officer at DeBary Elementary school might be funded. The city already faces an increase this year in its public safety budget.

Public safety costs rise

Public safety costs for the city are projected to increase to $5.54 million, an increase of $444,393. That includes fire services, law-enforcement protection and a portion of the debt for the new $2 million fire station.

The amount proposed for fire services, $1,739,683, is a nearly 30 percent increase. The amount proposed for the Sheriff’s Office is $3.49 million, a 32 percent increase.

City staffers are proposing to use $816,000 from reserves to balance this year’s budget.

The contracts with Orange City for fire services and with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.

Chitwood: Crime is down

Chitwood said crime is down 20 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016, though car burglaries have been “really big here.” The city’s proximity to Interstate 4 makes it a target for criminals looking for “crimes of opportunity,” Chitwood added.

“We’re on the I-4 corridor. They’re getting off and, as the councilman will tell you, they went into his subdivision and they went through that place like Sherman went through Atlanta,” Chitwood said. Bacon became a crime victim in April when a suspect got into his gated subdivison – River Oaks – and stole his convertible Corvette. 

It was recovered two hours later in Sanford.  Other communities in DeBary have been hit by car burglars seeking unlocked vehicles.

A man from Sanford is accused of car burglaries in Glen Abbey and DeBary Golf and Country Club. Chitwood says technology will help deputies fight crime.

DeBary’s proposed budget for next year includes a $70,000 request from Chitwood for two, fixed-location license-plate readers, as well as a third moveable reader.

The readers constantly scan license plates and they send alerts to deputies if the device detects anything flagged in national or state crime databases, like stolen plates, Chitwood said.

Official: Overprepare

Emergency managers, meanwhile, say DeBary and Volusia County are ready for disasters but residents need to be active participants and obey evacuation orders.

“The biggest thing you need to do is prepare your family,” said another speaker, Tom Cisco, operations coordinator for Volusia County Emergency Management. “Talk to your family about what hazards are going to affect you. And not just hurricanes. We always talk about hurricanes but there are a lot of hazards in this county that can affect you.”

DeBary Safety Coordinator Alan Williamson, also the city’s public works director, said “it’s better to overprepare than underprepare.”

“DeBary doesn’t necessarily need to evacuate. But depending on the storm, if you are in a manufactured home, you want may want to think about evacuating,” Williamson said.

The city is prepared for a range of disasters, he said.

“As far as the city, we have a comprehensive emergency management plan,” Williamson said. “We don’t plan just for hurricanes. We plan for all hazards. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Sinkholes. Wildfires.”

 

DeBary Fire Station No. 33: Grand opening, fast facts

 

 

 

The firefighters have already moved in. Now it’s time to celebrate.

DeBary officials are inviting the public to attend the grand opening of the city’s new fire station from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 29.

Parking is available at DeBary City Hall, 16 Colomba Road.

Here are a few highlights about Fire Station No. 33, DeBary’s only firehouse.

Cost: $2 million

Location: 75 S. Charles R. Beall Blvd. ( Next to new DeBary district headquarters for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, DeBary Town Hall and Florence K. Little Town Hall).

Why it is needed?: Previous station was deteriorating, didn’t meet code and couldn’t withstand hurricane-force winds.

What happened? Firefighters had to evacuate the old building during major storms because of structural concerns.

History:  The DeBary Volunteer Firemen’s
Association built previous station in 1975.

New facility: Meets National Fire Protection Association and Florida Building Code standards.

Inside: 7,962 square feet

Details:  Six bunkrooms, two offices, a
day room, kitchen and a training room.

 

DeBary official: Fay-like storm will flood city

Even though DeBary is inland, a roughly 40-minute drive from the nearest beach, hurricanes remain a threat. Storm veterans remember the River City’s flooding in 2004 and 2008.

Now, even after the city installed  $30 million with of stormwater upgrades, the flooding threat remains, Public Works Director Alan Williamson told the City Council on Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Fay dumped close to 24 inches of rain in 24 hours on parts of West Volusia in 2008, overflowing lakes, putting streets underwater and flooding 130 homes in DeBary.

This hurricane season, which started June 1 but typically doesn’t kick into high gear until August and September, is expected to be a “little more than active,” Williamson said.

Weather officials are predicting 14 named storms, with 7 of those turning into hurricanes and three of those becoming major hurricanes,  Williamson said.

DeBary’s fledging stormwater system is doing a good job with routine storms. But a 2-foot deluge in one day would overwhelm the city’s system of pipes, pumps, ponds, hoses and lakes.

“If we have another Tropical Storm Fay,  we’re going to have flooding, even though we’ve spent a lot of money and we’ve put in a lot of infrastructure. Now, the flooding won’t be as bad. We can move the water much more quickly but we still have a lot of low areas in DeBary,” Williamson said.

He’s concerned about residents’ level of preparedness.

“The public won’t be ready. The public’s not ready. There’s a lot of complacency within the nation. ‘This disaster won’t happen to me. It can’t happen to me.’  Why not?” he asked rhetorically, “Whenever there’s a disaster in a small area, you always hear people say, ‘we didn’t think it would happen here.’ Why not? you need to assume the worst everywhere.”

He said the city has taken other steps besides making the stormwater upgrades. Officials have contracts in place with businesses to remove debris quickly after the storm.

A temporary disposal site has been identified. The Orange City Fire Department and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office will provide whatever services is needed from their agencies, according to Williamson said.

The city has pumps to move water out of local ponds and generators to power traffic lights if they go out.

But residents need to prepare for their specific needs in case of storms.

“That’s what we expect them to do: Help themselves,” Williamson said.

When the winds get too fast, emergency responders will be grounded until conditions improve. Residents should prepare to fend for themselves for as long as 72 hours until the storms die down, he said.

The city’s major concern during storms is in the southeast quadrant because residents are on wells. If the power goes out, those residents won’t be able to get water pumped out of their wells.

“It doesn’t even take a storm to knock power out because if I had told you a week ago a snake will crawl into an electrical outlet or electrical component and black out 6,000 people you would have laughed at me,” Williamson said. Well, happened last week. So it doesn’t take a storm to cause problems.”

A snake caused a power outage after crawling into a Duke Energy facility on DeBary Avenue in Enterprise on Sunday, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Duke Energy said 6,131 customers, mostly DeBary-area ones, lost power at 9:42 p.m. and the outages lasted from 38 to 54 minutes.

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