After the storm: Some cleanup tips from city, county

Catastrophic forecasts of Hurricane Irma ripped through Palm Coast like other areas – initially a Category 5 hurricane, the largest ever predicted to hit Florida. But sustaining winds at 105 mph topped off at Category 2.

Palm Coasters opted to evacuate, relocate at shelters, or hunker down waiting out the storm.

Husband Louie and I waited out the storm unscathed.

We welcomed Louie’s cousins Anne Phillips and son Jay, who came by and checked on us.

According to the City of Palm Coast, debris removal generated by Hurricane Irma may take several passes through Palm Coast, and the process is expected to take several weeks.

Plenty family help
Louie had carpal tunnel surgery just prior to the storm, but lifted the heavy gas cans for the generator to keep our home running.

Nephew Jay McCarthy waded in our flooded yard areas to remove debris.

Niece Sabrina Weaks and sons Kristian and Kalynn and nephew Camron removed branches from the fallen tree limbs and placed them near the curb.

Sabrina handled the chainsaw with finesse. Louie, overwhelmed by the love of family, said, “Lots of people have families that don’t care about them. It’s sad. But my relatives are saviors!”

City was ready
In retrospect, conditions of the storm began to deteriorate Sept. 10. Gusts in the county as high as 75 mph continued through 10 a.m. the following day, according to weather officials – and were characterized by tornadoes and flash flood warnings.

The City of Palm Coast set in motion a charging station in Town Center’s Central Park for cell phone users.

Holland Park was open with power so bathrooms were functional.

Data had been sent from both the City of Palm Coast and the county.

Debris removal
To expedite debris removal from residences, the City of Palm Coast asked residents to help by separating everything at the curb in three categories:
Vegetative debris – leaves, logs, plants, tree branches, etc.

Construction and demolition debris – building materials, asphalt shingles, drywall, lumber, metal, plastics, etc.

Normal household trash – Normal household trash and bagged debris of any kind would not be picked up with debris as part of this program. Residents should continue to follow their normal garbage and yard trash schedule for normal garbage and bagged storm debris.

Debris should be placed on the property near the curb and not on the street.

Vegetative debris should not be piled on the water meter box, the sewer clean-out cap, or the PEP tank lid. The City of Palm Coast may need access to the system during storm recovery.

Residents whose homes were endangered by dead, dying or diseased trees from neighboring properties or public right-of-ways should call the City of Palm Coast Urban Forestry at 386-986-3758 to report the issue. An inspector will be sent to determine the action that should be taken.

Limited water usage
As the wastewater sewer system continues to be taxed because of power outages, the City of Palm Coast advised to limit water usage for showers, flushing, and dishwashing.

The less water that goes into the wastewater system, the less is to be pumped out and trucked to the wastewater treatment plant.

If power is restored and the PEP alarm sounds, residents were advised to limit water usage until the PEP alarm stops. If the alarm continues after 15 minutes, the occupants are to call Customer Service at 386-986-2360 to report the problem.

Permits waived: Fees will be waived through Nov. 30 for permits for fences, sheds, soffit/fascia/siding repairs, A/C equipment change-outs, electrical repairs (mast, weather-head, panel, lights), roofing, screen enclosure (aluminum cage) and docks for damage incurred as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Information on the permits required, when necessary, and timing for acquiring those permits is available at the city’s website: For any clarity regarding the repairs that require a permit, call the Building Division at 386-986-3780.

Any questions pertaining to the City of Palm Coast services – garbage and debris collection, water and sewer, streets, and drainage – should be directed to Customer Service at 386-986-2360.

Investigate contractors
The City of Palm Coast also advised that all contractors other than for debris removal and landscaping/tree removal are required to have a license.

Ask to see the license, and take a photo of the license, if possible. The Palm Coast Building Division can be reached at 386-986-3780 to make sure the right license has been issued. Moreover, obtain a written contract before any work is started.

Remove shutters, boards
Information from Flagler County states that residents are encouraged to remove their hurricane shutters and boards from windows to prevent fire hazards.

“A fire inside a home with shuttered windows may not be visible until it is too late,” Flagler County Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito said. “It can delay firefighters trying to enter a home that is on fire.”

Flagler County firefighters follow a “vent, enter, search” protocol, which means they will enter room-by-room to search and ensure that everyone is out of a burning structure.

Shuttered and boarded-up windows can hinder the process.

“We know folks are tired and weary, but please take the time to remove your shutters,” said Flagler County Deputy Fire Chief Joe King.

Disaster assistance
The county issued yet another advisory that residents can apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance online or at the Flagler County Assistance Center in the Flagler County Public Library.

Applicants should be prepared to provide:
Social Security number (one per household)
Address of the damaged home or apartment
Description of the damage
Information about insurance coverage
Telephone number
Mailing address
Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposits of funds
Residents can apply online at

Residents without transportation and who need a ride to apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance should call 386-313-4100.

Minister sworn in as local chaplain
The Rev. Dr. Danita Blow was sworn in recently as Flagler County Sheriff’s Department Chaplain.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly swore in Rev. Blow, who is an ordained minister with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Howard University School of Divinity.

Rev. Blow, a motivational speaker, will minister to inmates and provide confidential and nondenominational, spiritual support to the sheriff’s staff and citizen victims of crime or tragedy in Flagler County.

Congratulations, Rev. Blow!


As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.

Birthday wishes to Kwando M. Kinshasa, Sept. 21; Ellen M. Parker, Maynard Howell, Sept. 22; and Mandy Brooks, Sept. 23.



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