Loxahatchee Groves and The Acreage have unique challenges in preparing for a hurricane due to large properties and miles of canals to keep clear.
“I’m very proud of our people,” Loxahatchee Groves Mayor Dave Browning said. “For the most part, they are very prepared for those kinds of things. We have all of our debris contractors in line for any emergencies that we have.”
Browning encouraged residents, especially if they are new to the area, to create a basic kit to survive without having water and electricity, or being able to go out for food, for a week or more.
Hurricane preparation information is available at www.pbcgov.com/dem/hurricane, which provides complete information.
“Our town will be out of power longer than most other towns,” Browning said. “FPL has done some work clearing trees, and hopefully they’re better prepared for it this year.”
He said his family buys extra canned goods and, if they don’t use them, they donate them at the end of the season.
“It’s just a good thing to be prepared. If you have a generator, just be sure it’s hooked up safely,” Browning said. “The town itself is prepared. This is really the first time that we have a hardened structure where all our town records are. Town hall is very safe against the storms.”
Browning said that the town tried amnesty yard waste collection programs in the past where residents could put all the yard clippings they wanted on the road for pickup, but one weekend was not really enough, and professional landscapers were abusing the program, so it was discontinued.
In the event of a hurricane, he said it is better to have trees trimmed so limbs don’t fall on structures.
ITID Finance Director Don Rinzel said brush clearing and flooding are also primary concerns for Acreage residents.
Although ITID has been in talks with the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about using the Moss property for additional stormwater discharge, and with GL Homes about establishing a retention area, the district is still saddled currently with a quarter-inch release limit once its impoundment area fills up and the SFWMD invokes release restrictions.
“We are at the mercy of the South Florida Water Management District, and it dictates how we can push water,” Rinzel said. “We can’t just start pushing our water out, because the folks down south will be flooded. That’s why we have the storage area. We have to store it and, once we get the OK, we can pump a certain amount of water out.”
He said that the district is actively working on finalizing the agreement to allow discharge to the historically water-deprived Moss property.
“We are working with GL Homes, which in the future is going to provide us extra storage. We are in negotiations with them,” Rinzel said. “They have reached out to us, and they are willing to give us some land so we can store some water on it, but nothing has been finalized.”
Rinzel encouraged Acreage residents to keep their swales clear of debris to allow the water to move.
“Have a plan in place,” he said. “Every year we put together a hurricane prep book for ourselves. We’re in contact with the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center and have all of our contacts updated. Everyone is given a plan.”
ITID also has an emergency debris hauling company on contract in the event of a storm to get the roads cleared as quickly as possible.
“They’ll set us up a common area so we can start unloading debris,” Rinzel said. “For residents, try to keep the trees trimmed and keep stuff out of the swales — anything that can help not block water from flowing.”
He also pointed out that the ITID administration building has an emergency generator and should be operational in the event of a power failure.
Learn more about how you can prepare for a storm at www.readypbc.org.