​September 4, 2018

Lee County & Hurricane Irma  

The arrival of Hurricane Irma in Lee County on Sept. 10, 2017, had both immediate and long-lasting impacts on the community. As the one-year anniversary of the storm approaches, here is a recap of some of those effects, as well as the local response and efforts to mitigate future storm impacts:

Canals and Flood Mitigation

$4.36 million spent on contractor firms to remove debris from creeks, waterways and drainage canals.

Obtained $4.95 million grant from Natural Resources Conservation Services with additional $1.65 million Board of County Commissioners commitment for waterway and weir repair and sediment removal.

$3 million allocated in FY18-19 budget for flood remediation

36.8 miles of major drainage canals cleared of debris

Community Development

A total of 12,175 roofing permits were issued from Sept. 11, 2017 to Aug. 23, 2018

Damage assessment 

Commercial Loss: $102.4 million
Residential Loss: $725.9 million
Other Loss: $4.4 million


Debris removal (for unincorporated Lee County and Village of Estero):
Cubic yards total: 2,704,829.76 
Total cost: $39,038,906.50

Economic Development

Small Business Administration Loans – 2,996 loans approved, $117.7 million
Emergency Bridge Loans – 75 loans approved, $3.1 million

Emergency Management / Public Safety

Emergency Operations Center seated 110 people during Irma, representing about 60 agencies or organizations
Lee County residents who attended 2018 hurricane prep seminars: 2,762
New shelter staff trained: 250
Shelter facilities surveyed for additional improvements (HMGP):  20
Additional county employees identified to support disaster operations through a pilot program: 200
Additional activities:
Held planning meetings with all principals and leadership teams from shelter schools, Parks and Recreation facilities, Germain Arena and FGCU/Alico Arena. 
Further developed shelter feeding plan.
Streamlined shelter registration form to shorten time spent in line.
Developed plans to adjust Emergency Operations Center floor layout and organizational chart to confirm roles and responsibilities and staffing depth.
Currently updating the County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) based on Irma lessons learned across the board.
The latest estimate shows that Lee County and its jurisdictions could be eligible for up to $24 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding for up to 58 projects.  This number is subject to change and no projects are guaranteed.  The money is not dispersed upfront (it’s a reimbursement grant program), and all projects must meet strict eligibility requirements. Countywide, project ideas have included critical infrastructure, generator and hardening projects, and flood/drainage projects.

Evacuation snapshot
Evacuations were ordered for about 300,000 people
14 shelters opened.
About 35,000 people were sheltered, the largest sheltering operation in the state for Hurricane Irma.
About 3,550 pets were sheltered.
From the first shelter opening to the last shelter closing, shelters operated for 6 weeks, 2 days.
Lee County EMS received 1,142 calls for service in the 48 hours post-landfall.

Human Services

Households receiving services: 307 
Households placed in hotels, apartments, etc.: 30
Referrals to other agencies: 176


More than 9,900 signs and sign supports have been repaired.
303 traffic signals repaired

United Way

United Way 211 worked out of the County Emergency Operations Center for 19 straight days and took more than 40,000 calls from residents and visitors in the month of September 2017 alone. Workers made direct calls to more than 1,200 people with special needs to arrange transportation to get them to the shelters.
United Way worked with the Emergency Operations Center and the network of agencies to coordinate and set-up eight Points of Distribution and more than 20 feeding sites to provide emergency food, water, ice and medical supplies


Purchase and install three permanent generators (permanent emergency pumping capability equipment) for the next two consecutive years for lift stations. Funding is included in in FY19 budget.

Purchase an additional 3,000-gallon fuel truck to add to its current inventory for the refueling of generators for lift stations and raw water wells. 

Create a new budgeted position in FY19 for another generator technician.