Tag Archives: weather

Stephen Bacon’s beef with Irma bills called ‘bunk’

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore defended himself and city staffers after Stephen Bacon alleged costly bungling of rapid-cleanup contracts approved after Hurricane Irma.

The City Council member on Wednesday questioned debris-removal deals negotiated under emergency conditions and approved unanimously by the City Council to protect the public days after the storm ripped across Florida in September.

Ron McLemore
Ron McLemore

“That is such a pile of bunk that I don’t even want to answer you,” McLemore told Bacon.

Mayor Bob Garcia defended McLemore, saying Bacon’s recollection of what happened “is not actually correct.”

Other council members remained silent during the heated exchange between Bacon and McLemore.

Wednesday’s showdown marked the lasted flashpoint between Bacon and his colleagues.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

Contractor shortage

Contractors were hard to find in Florida after Irma’s passage. Hurricane Harvey’s damage to Texas ramped up demand.

On Sept. 20, as limbs piled high along DeBary roadways, McLemore offered options for City Council members for the express-debris removal they wanted.

Bacon and the other council members picked the most expensive option – estimated to cost $540,000 – to hire two contractors – Waste Pro and DRC.

DRC got a standard rate negotiated a year before the storm of  $7.62 per cubic yard for removal of debris on public roads.

After the storm, as contractors ran to south Florida for higher rates, Waste Pro negotiated a $15.78 cubic yard rate for pickup on private roads.

Storms pinch budget

Initially, the city estimated it would cost $540,000 for all debris pickup. That amount nearly tripled to $1.5 million because Irma downed more trees and limbs than expected.

City officials are trying to get funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Irma and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 for that could take months or longer.

Those two storms combined cost DeBary taxpayers $1.8 million over two budget years, putting pressure on city finances.

If the hurricanes had not happened, the city’s 2017 general fund would have closed with a $562,000 positive cash flow.

Instead, it had a negative balance of $75,000.  Reserves were used to balance the budget.

Bacon blasts costs

As far as costs for Irma, city staffers are still examining the bills and may have a full accounting of the expenditures within the next two weeks.

Bacon said he’s upset because Waste Pro hired a subcontractor and made more than he expected from the city. He thought Waste Pro would make 40 percent of the contract.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

The remaining 60 percent, he thought, would go to the cheaper contractor.

“But in actuality, it turned around,” Bacon said. “No one expected that they would find a contractor. Why didn’t we find a contractor that would work for a lower price?”

Bidding wars


McLemore reminded Bacon that he, along with other council members, approved the contracts, the city was facing an emergency and contractors were hard to find as two states cleaned up from separate hurricanes.

Then Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

There were reports of bidding wars with contractors leaving unfinished jobs to get better-paying ones elsewhere.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

In the situation we were backed up into at that particular time, we couldn’t get people to turn around and come to the city of DeBary on our original agreement. And it had to do with the federal government saying that they could charge the additional money,” Garcia said. “We were the first city to have everything picked up and cleaned up so we did a very very good job as far as that’s concerned.”

‘Premium’ on public safety

Local governments across Florida experienced problems with a shortage of contractors and equipment after Irma.

It hit just two weeks after Harvey slammed Texas.

“You put a premium, this council put a premium, and I agree with you, to get this place cleaned up as quick as possible for public safety,” McLemore said. “We did it. We did in a great way. And we were one of the first to get cleaned up when other people were still trying to get trucks.”

McLemore said Bacon’s concern that the Waste Pro subcontractor didn’t have a performance bond with the city is unfounded. That sub was covered by Waste Pro’s bond and insurance. “This is just a bunch of misinformation and I resent the fact that it’s put out here,” McLemore said.

‘That’s legitimate’

He said he hasn’t been able to provide a  full accounting of all the costs because staffers are finding mistakes on the bills and sending them back to the contractors.

After the charges are checked out, McLemore will make a presentation about the costs to the City Council.

“We have sent these bills back to the company telling them they are incorrect because we are performing the pre-auditing function you should know all about,” McLemore told Bacon, an accountant.

Bacon’s response: “That’s legitimate.”

“Of course it is,” McLemore replied. “Your staff doesn’t sit around twiddling their fingers trying to find something to do. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do, and what they know to do and they’re doing it quite well.”

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DeBary, Florida faces cold front, thunderstorms today

 

 

 

 

Get ready for a messy commute home this afternoon.

A gigantic cold front will sweep through Central Florida between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. today, bringing thunderstorms and lightning. Twenty to 30-mph gusts are possible.

Saturday’s high will be in the 50s.

The front will drop temperatures into the mid-30s Saturday night into Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

Saturday’s high will be 60.


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DeBary weather: Freezes over, 56-degree high today

After days of freeze warnings, DeBary and the rest of Central Florida will warm up a bit today. But not by much.

Today’s high will be 56 degrees in the River City. The lows will dip into the 30s overnight.

Sunday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 63.  The low overnight into Monday morning 51.

Monday’s high will be 72 degrees. There’s a 20 percent chance of showers Monday night.  The rain chance jumps to 40 percent Tuesday.

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DeBary Christmas weather forecast: Glorious

Snow and rain are expected in parts of the northern U.S. on Christmas Day.

But the weather outlook for  DeBary and elsewhere in Florida can be summed up in one word: Glorious.

Monday’s high: 68

The River City will be mostly sunny, with a high near 68. Cooler weather will breeze in as the sun goes down.

Evening lows will dip to 51.

Today, Super Saturday shoppers will break a sweat as they brave the crowds for last-minute gifts and groceries. The high will be 82 degrees.

Christmas Eve high of 82 degrees

Fog and cooler weather return overnight Saturday into Sunday morning with a low of 61.

On Sunday, Christmas Eve,  the fog will burn off and 82-degree weather returns. Evening lows will be about 58 degrees.

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DeBary’s 2017 top stories: Irma, crime and medical marijuana

Crime, business and city government issues topped DeBary Life’s most popular stories in 2017.

Hurricane Irma

  • Hurricane Irma‘s impact, causing downed power lines and snapping tons of branches in September, also was a top issue for readers of the 4-year-old local news blog. The city’s rapid-response cleanup may end up costing local taxpayers $1 million, though city administrators pledged to get as much money from FEMA as possible.

Business, traffic

Hawthorne Landing makes big news

  • One of the biggest city-government stories this year was the September approval of a 289-unit apartment complex — the first project for DeBary’s transit-oriented development district. Construction on  could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019,  said David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development.  The project,  also called Integra 289 Exchange, is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

Big crime stories

  • The fatal stabbing of Lisa Bresie in her Lantana Drive home and the November arrest of her former boyfriend, Anton Sanders, of Sanford.
  • Christopher Langer

     

    Also in November, readers on stories about Christopher Langer, who is accused of keeping bomb-making materials and bottles of urine in his parents’ home in Saxon Woods.

  • The arrest of DeBary resident Clay Curtsinger in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend’s ex in Orange County also was a top story.

More big city news

The approval of an ordinance in December allowing medical marijuana dispensaries under certain conditions in DeBary rounded out DeBary Life’s top 10 list.

What was your top DeBary story in 2017?

Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/debarynews.

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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
    poles.
  • Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an
    area.
  • Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or
    fences.
  • Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can
    travel long distances through it.

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Florida leads nation in fatal lightning strikes

Florida remains the most deadly state in the nation for lightning strikes.

Fifty-two people have been killed by lightning since January 2007, according to a Naples Daily News report Sunday.

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

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.

She was the last lightning fatality in Volusia County, NOAA said.

Two people have been killed by lightning so far this year. Laura Miller, 37, died after being hit by lightning while riding a horse in Douglas County, Colorado on May 7.

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.

DeBary resident Terri Hoag survived a lightning blast 11 years ago.

Hoag currently serves on the city of DeBary’s community center task force.

Some residents of The Reserve at DeBary were credited with saving Hoag after she was struck by lightning in May 2006 while carrying her then 2-year-old son to a neighbor’s house, according to the Orando Sentinel.

Son Logan wasn’t grounded and wasn’t shocked, the newspaper said.

Lightning facts and safety tips from NOAA:

“If you’re outside and hear thunder, the only way to significantly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty is to get inside a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle as fast as you can.”

During storms:

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

 

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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