Tag Archives: florida

Duke Energy slammed by otherwise thankful DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia

DeBary Diner got a shout out for providing free meals to city workers during Hurricane Irma.  Walmart and Winn-Dixie were praised.

Walgreens got attaboys for filling prescriptions during the emergency. Gas stations received thanks for calling DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia about fuel shipments.

But Duke Energy got a failing grade from Garcia.

“I have issues with Duke Energy and how they went about it, ” Garcia said during Wednesday’s council meeting. “Yes, they need a lot of fixing. Yes, they need to turn around and hire more people.”

Florida Power & Light responded within 48 hours and had 98 percent of customers’ power restored after Hurricane Irma, Garcia said.

“Duke Energy took almost nine to 10 days before they turned around and addressed the issue of power in the city of DeBary,” Garcia said.

Sign up for DeBary Life updates below:

Bears busy bulking up for winter, FWC says

Florida wildlife officers Wednesday confirmed what some DeBary residents already know: Bears are busier than normal these days. Bears are busy bulking up for winter, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That means your garbage could become a furry intruder’s next meal.

Bears need to pound 20,000 calories a day to prepare for the season.

“As bears become more active in the fall, they take the path of least resistance to find food,” said Dave Telesco, who leads the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “This draws them into neighborhoods and areas with convenient food sources, which can be dangerous for people. While the FWC continues to work with local communities to reduce human-bear conflicts, it is important for Floridians to understand the steps they can take to keep themselves safe.”

The FWC on Wednesday also revealed a new public-service video. The search for food often leads bears across busy roads. The latest installment of the Living with Florida Black Bears reminds drivers to use caution while driving through areas prone to have bears.

“Bears are most active around dusk and dawn, and therefore most vehicle-bear collisions happen during these times of day,” a news release said.

Sign up for DeBary Life updates below:

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.”

Sign up for DeBary Life updates below:

Breastfeeding in Volusia: 3 percent hike

Volusia moms are doing a better job of breastfeeding their babes.

The county’s breastfeeding rate jumped by 3 percent from 2011 to 2015, the Volusia County Health Department announced Tuesday. But Volusia is behind compared to the rest of the Sunshine State. Florida’s rate of increase during that period was 5.6 percent. Those details were released in a new report released by the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County, according to spokeswoman Holly Smith.

The report was prepared to coincide with National Breastfeeding Month, which is August.

“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there is no better food than breast milk for a baby’s first year of life,” the report said.

“A significant body of evidence supports breastfeeding as critical to improve health outcomes of mothers and babies,” Florida State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip said in a statement. “Supporting mom and baby during the first few days of life are critical for successful breastfeeding.”

On a national level, the percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding increased from 73 percent in 2004 to 83 percent in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Breastfeeding rates vary among women of different races in Volusia County.

“For example, Hispanic mothers are the only racial/ethnic group that has exceeded a national breastfeeding goal set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” a news release said.
“Black mothers consistently had lower breastfeeding rates than white and Hispanic mothers.”

In Volusia County, the ZIP code with the highest breastfeeding
percentage among (WIC) mothers was 32130 in the DeLeon Springs and Barberville areas with 88.2 percent.

The DeBary-area ZIP code of 32713, came in at 82.4 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum was Oak Hil-area ZIP code 32759 with 47.1 percent.

Local officials with the federally funded Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food and health-care assistance program are working to improve breastfeeding rates.

Two-hour classes for new and expectant mothers are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on these dates and at these locations:

  • Tues., Sept. 5, at 775 Harley, Strickland Blvd., Orange City.
  • Wed., Sept. 13, at 717 W. Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach.
  • Thurs., Sept. 21, at 1845 Holsonback Dr., Daytona Beach.

“Each evening class is a one-time session,” the news release states. “Reservations are suggested but not required.”

Details:  volusiahealth.com/wic or call 866-WIC FOOD (942-3663).

Other resources:

  • La Leche League International: Call 1-800-LALECHE or www.lalecheleague.org.
  • Breastfeeding Helpline: Call 1-800-994-9662 or www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding.
  • Florida WIC Program Services: Call 1-800-342-3556 or visit the WIC website

Sign up below for DeBary Life updates.


DeBary’s Gemini Springs lands $380K for runoff cleanup

A $50 million cleanup plan for Florida’s springs includes cash to protect Gemini Springs and other water bodies in Volusia County.

  • More than $380,000 from state, water district and local authorities will pay for efforts in DeBary to help clean runoff from 200 acres flowing into Gemini Springs.
  • About $1.2 million from state, district and locals will fund a project designed to reduce water withdrawals from Blue Spring in Orange City.
  • Nearly $390,000 for a separate project will help pay to remove 179 septic tanks that threaten the health of Blue Spring.
  • An additional $2 million is earmarked for Blue, Silver and
    Wekiva to voluntarily replace and retrofit septic tanks at an estimated cost of $10,000 per tank.
  • Another $2.5 million is approved to reduce pollution in DeLeon Springs. The money will pay for a conservation easement to transition Fieser Dairy from a highly intensive dairy operation to a less intensive ranching operation.
  • “It is estimated that this project will result in a nutrient reduction of more than 200 pounds of total nitrogen per day and more than 80 pounds of total phosphorus per day,” the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said in a news release.

The state and St. Johns River Water Management District are each chipping in $95,000, and local authorities will provide $190,000, for the Gemini Springs project.

It will pay for “nutrient separating baffle boxes” with “enhanced
nutrient reduction from stormwater and surficial groundwater along Dirksen Drive in Volusia County and upstream of the marsh inflow to Gemini Springs Run,” according to documents released by Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office. The property in the Fredricka Road area receives runoff from the 123-acre “Plantation Estates to the north, which was constructed prior to the stormwater treatment era,” documents state. “The Mansion Blvd. site receives runoff from an additional 85 acres of Plantation Estates. ”

Scott’s office and the Florida DEP on Monday announced $50 million for 40 projects.  The so called Fighting for Florida’s Future budget will “improve water quality, reduce nutrient loading, recharge water supply and protect habitat in Florida’s iconic spring systems,” the Florida DEP said. This includes a state investment of more than $10.2 million to protect springs in Central and Northeast Florida, including the Silver, Wekiva, Volusia Blue and De Leon

“This includes a state investment of more than $10.2 million to protect springs in Central and Northeast Florida, including the Silver, Wekiva, Volusia Blue and De Leon springsheds,” a statement said. “Combined with match funding from Florida’s water management districts and local partners, the investment in springs projects statewide will total more than $94 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year.”

SIgn up for DeBary Life updates:


Five killed in Florida by lightning this year

Florida’s reputation for killer lightning continues.

Five people have been killed by lightning this year, most recently a tourist in Brevard County. They are among 11 killed in the U.S. this year.

Nine people were killed by lightning in Florida last year, including a tourist in Volusia County.

Fifty-two people have been killed by lightning between 2007 and 2016, according to a Naples Daily News.

Florida far outpaces any other state when it comes to lightning-related deaths. Texas had 21 deaths, less than half of Florida’s deaths in the same time period, according to a USA Today Network-Florida analysis.

In Florida’s most recent case, Lamar Rayfield, 35, of Philadelphia died at a hospital after he was hit by lightning on Satellite Beach in Brevard County on July 28.

An infant delivered after his pregnant mother was struck by lightning in the Fort Myers area died July 12, roughly two weeks after the strike.

Meghan Davidson was struck by lightning June 29. Her baby, Owen, was delivered at Lee Memorial Hospital and later moved to Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Thirty-five-year old Jeremy Harper of Kentucky died after a lightning strike outside his tent July 10 at the Wilderness Landing Campground in Okaloosa County in the Florida Panhandle.

He was camping with eight other family members, including six children ranging in age from 15 months to 13 years old, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Guadalupe Salinas, 46, of  Fort Pierce died after he was struck by lightning at a Jensen Beach construction site on May 17.

A construction worker, Edwin Ramos Jarquin Armas, 33, died in June after he was struck on the grounds of Pines City Center in Pembroke Pines, the Miami Herald said.

The last lightning fatality in Volusia County happened last year.

Janika Gardner of Georgia died after she was hit by lightning on the beach in Daytona Beach Shores on June 24, 2016, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

During storms:

  • Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area.
  • Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility
  • Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an
  • Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or
  • Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can
    travel long distances through it.

Sign up below for DeBary Life updates:

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.

Sign up for updates from DeBary Life:

Leave your comments below:


VCSO reveals new Crime Center

Deputies are rolling to a crime scene. They need information fast about where they are going. Is it a neighborhood with crime problems? If so, what kind of problems? Car break-ins? Burglaries? Drugs?

The answer to those questions and others are now easier to get because of the new Crime Center unveiled Tuesday by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The agency, which provides law-enforcement services in DeBary, said the center will use data gathered from the entire county.

Body worn cameras

“More than a year in the works, the Crime Center is a fully-integrated facility that will serve the entire county by providing analysis of crime trends and patterns as well as real-time intelligence disseminated to officers in the field responding to high-risk, in-progress incidents,” Gary Davidson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement. “By tapping into existing and emerging technology, the Crime Center’s mission is to enhance the situational awareness of responding officers and improve safety for the public and officers.”

DeBary invited to National Night Out



DeBary residents can spend a few hours with the professionals who keep us safe during next week’s National Night Out.

The event begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Florence K. Little Town Hall, 12 Colomba Road, and the nearby Sheriff’s Office DeBary district headquarters, 79 U.S. Highway 17-92.

The countrywide event is aimed at building bridges in the community and promoting “police-community partnerships,” said Andrew Gant, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

The agency provides law-enforcement services in DeBary.

The Sheriff’s Office will hold National Night Out events in DeLand, Deltona and South Daytona.

In DeBary, Residents will have an opportunity to interact with deputies from patrol, investigations, crime scene, K-9, SWAT and the bomb unit.CRIME SPREE

Representatives from Crime Stoppers, the Citizen Observer Program and members of our Communications Center will attend.

“VCSO specialized vehicles will be on display in the district headquarters parking lot,” Gant said in a statement Friday.

Other agencies, including DeBary Fire, the Volusia County Health Department, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, will participate.


Zika prevention: How can DeBary residents can help?

The images from Brazil are heart-breaking.
Babies are being born with abnormally small heads, possibly because of the Zika virus.
Could it happen here? It’s possible.
But residents can do a lot to prevent it from spreading if they drain anything that holds standing water —  breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses.
“We cannot inspect every residence in Volusia County,”  Jim McNelly, director of Volusia County Mosquito Control, said in an email.
His agency provides mosquito control to and elsewhere in Volusia County.  Residents can request services here.
“Ultimately, everyone should be involved in reducing” the mosquito production that results from such standing-water containers as  birdbaths, rain barrels and buckets.
Even something as small as a bottle cap can provide birthing grounds for mosquties.

Virus spreading
Zika virus is spreading and it’s hard to predict where and when it will go next, experts say.
is at risk because of plentiful mosquito populations.
But the types of mosquitoes that carry Zika —  Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever mosquito) and the Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito) — are no strangers to Florida bug-control experts.
That’s because they also spread the chikungunya and dengue viruses.
These biters are unique because, unlike other mosquitoes, they breed near residences in containers with standing water – not in large natural bodies of water.
These are called “backyard mosquitoes” but they are also found in the fronts and sides of homes and in  containers of every shape and size.
McNelly’s agency added a domestic-inspection program years ago to specifically target Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus breeding grounds.
“The surveillance and control strategies are directed at these” mosquitoes, whether the threat is chikungunya, dengue, Zika or simply nuisance control, McNelly said.
Florida cases all travel-related
As of Friday, Volusia County had no cases of Zika.
In Florida, though, there have been 20 cases — all travel-related, meaning someone got Zika from outside Florida and came here with the virus.
Zika: Florida cases
Zika: Florida cases
St. Johns and Osceola counties had one case each. Hillsborough had three, Miami Dade had 7, Lee had 3, Santa Rosa had 1 and Broward had 3.
Zika map
Zika map
 “All of the cases in Florida are travel-related and none involve pregnant women,” The Florida Department of Health said in a statement Friday.
The agency is operating a Zika Virus Information Hotline at 855-622-6735.
It has also launched this Drain and Cover video aimed at mosquito prevention.

No vaccine for Zika
Zika was considered a relatively obscure virus until 2007.
That’s when there was an outbreak on the Yap Islands in
“In 2015 a large outbreak started in Bahia, Brazil and spread throughout South and Central America and the
Caribbean,”  Florida Mosquito Control Association said a recent report. “Large outbreaks of the disease have been reported from many countries in the area including Brazil,
Colombia, El Salvador, and probably others that have not yet reported accurate statistics.”
There is no vaccine to prevent infection, according to Dr.  George Ralls,  the Orange County Medical Director.
“The good news is that symptoms are generally mild for most people, ” Ralls said in a statement.
Common symptoms are fever, rash, joint and muscle pain and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It clears up on its own after a few days, said the CDC, which released this video about the virus:

Risks for unborn children
Public health and medical experts want to know more about the complications resulting from Zika virus infection.
“For this reason alone, infection with the virus should be taken very seriously, and appropriate precautions should be taken to
avoid infection,” the Florida Mosquito Association said.
Zika virus: Pregnancy at risk
Zika virus: Pregnancy at risk
“Zika virus infection in pregnant women can result in serious, even lethal consequences for the fetus,” the association said. “During the current Zika pandemic, a very high incidence of babies born with abnormally small heads and significant brain damage, a condition known as microcephaly, is being documented in mothers that were
infected with the virus during pregnancy.”
Ralls said that’s why it’s important for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to follow CDC travel advisories on visiting Zika-affected areas.
Pregnant women should also avoid mosquito bites here in the U.S. until research better explains the relationship between the virus and birth defects,  Ralls noted.

McNelly, the director of Volusia County Mosquito Control called Zika “a serious disease, as are the other diseases we routinely monitor and deploy control strategies against.”
He said the county’s experience fighting chikungunya and dengue has prepared it for Zika.
“At this time, we have no travel related cases of Zika virus, and (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) are nearly non-existent this time of year,” McNelly said. “Between May and October, drain containers or flush containers at least once per week to avoid creating more of these” mosquitoes.
Rob Deininger