By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
With August (Hurricane Andrew, Aug. 24,1992), September (Hurricane Irma, Sept. 10, 2017), and October (Hurricane Wilma, Oct. 24, 2005) still poignant reminders of the amount of damage a Hurricane can do – Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer advised residents to prepare ahead at his most recent Town Hall meeting.
Held on June 25 at the start of Hurricane Season 2019, Singer encouraged audience members to “Please have your hurricane plans [ready] now. You don’t want to be the last person at Publix fighting over a bottle of water!” he said.
Simple things, like knowing where your insurance documents are, [photographing valuables], getting a generator, and making sure your hurricane shutters are oiled if they are retractable or you have the right hardware if you are putting them up, are important.
“Don’t be that guy on Facebook asking, “Does anybody have a wing-nut?” he quipped.
Singer urged residents to stay up-to-date with Watches and Warnings, and said the day before a hurricane is not the time to clean out your garage (to be able to put a car in) or trim your trees, as city bulk pick-up may be suspended.
He encouraged residents to have a plan of where they would go in the event they should need to evacuate.
“You don’t need to leave the state, maybe just go over one street, or one city. Or if you’re in a non-evacuation zone, consider hosting friends and family – [rather than jamming I-95 and the Turnpike for hours in stand-still, bumper-to-bumper traffic, only to have the Hurricane reverse course, as it did in Irma for those who evacuated to Central Florida.]
Close calls to the local area include Hurricane Michael, which passed by Boca only to devastate the Florida Panhandle with 145 mph winds on Oct. 10, 2018; and Hurricane Matthew (on Oct. 4, 2016). “Thank God we were spared,” Singer said.
Residents should sign up for CodeRED at the city’s website https://www.myboca.us
or Nextdoor at https://nextdoor.com/city/boca-raton–fl
A resident asked when Camino Real Intracoastal Waterway Bridge would finally open?
Singer said that although the bridge had been slated to open June 20, there was miscommunication between those working on the project and those putting out the information.
“It’s a County project, a County road,” he added, regarding the fact it is overseen by Palm Beach County Roads & Bridges.
As of press time on July 12, the city said the project was now looking at an end of July opening. The city said it had spoken with the project manager the day before, and the project was in inspections now, “entering the home stretch.”
Originally, the Camino Bridge, which closed April 12, 2018 for a $9 million rehabilitation – involving moving the bridge tender’s house to the north side, and making the bridge slightly wider to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians — was supposed to reopen one year later in April 2019.
According to the city’s website, after removal of the existing steel coating system last summer, an engineer discovered heavy deterioration and severe section loss of existing structural steel members, therefore requiring additional repairs. This delayed the project 12 more weeks, with the bridge now set to reopen in summer 2019.
In the wake of neighbor to the north Riviera Beach voting the week before [on June 17] to pay out $600,000 in ransom to access its own information following a cyber crime that began with a May 29 errant email containing a virus, one resident wanted to know what the City of Boca Raton has in place to keep this same type of thing from happening here?
Singer said, “Heaven forbid a cyber attack [were to happen,] we have redundant backups, and the latest licenses.”
“Interestingly, Riviera Beach had already approved [$941,000] to modernize the city’s Information Technology [IT]. However, they didn’t have it in place yet. Despite a warning from [FBI] law enforcement, they paid $600,000 [from the city’s insurance].”
Riviera Beach’s entire email system was disrupted, as was emergency dispatch.
Palm Springs also had a security breach in July 2018, in which they paid out money but did not get all of their information back, it was reported.
Boca Raton Mayor Singer welcomed about 100 residents to his June 25 Town Hall.
This latest summer Town Hall was held at the Downtown Library across the street from City Hall; whereas his winter Town Hall was held at Spanish River Library on Feb. 6.
Singer said that since first becoming a Boca City Council Member in 2014, he wanted to “make sure we are reaching out. Since becoming Mayor and getting elected to Mayor in 2018, one of my goals has been to try to keep residents informed and engaged,” he added.
Singer also commended city staff. “You can’t leave your home and go to work in the morning without touching on about five community services [that our hard-working city staff does well],” he said.
He ran a fast-paced, information-filled Town Hall, presenting updates on the city’s Strategic Plan and a number of issues affecting the city.
Singer then spent about an hour taking questions – and answering them — from each person in the audience who wished to ask one.