I am writing in response to the full-page ad that appeared on page 10 of your Feb. 8 Town-Crier regarding Tropical Storm Isaac flooding. There were several inaccuracies that I would like to correct.
The first statement is correct, that the Palm Beach County’s comprehensive emergency management plan does delegate the authority to the Division of Emergency Management to be the lead agency and when necessary issue a local state of emergency. The ad then questions how PBC EOC could be caught by surprise by the heavy rains and flooding that occurred during the tropical storm.
The Division of Emergency Management gets all of its information regarding storm intensity and projected rainfall from the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service Center in Miami. Neither one of those agencies predicted in advance that we were going to be impacted by the amount of rain (18 inches) we experienced in the western communities.
The third statement raised in the ad is totally incorrect. Palm Beach County was not remiss in turning down the Indian Trail Improvement District’s request for drainage assistance during the storm. Neither the Palm Beach County Commission nor the Division of Emergency Management has any authority to approve a request for drainage relief. Furthermore, to our knowledge, the county never received such a request. By state statute, the only agency that has that authority to approve such a request is the South Florida Water Management District.
The comment regarding our lack of response pertaining to barricades is also incorrect. Emergency Management officials did respond as quickly as we could to locate and provide ITID with barricades. The last statement is completely incorrect. A local State of Emergency was declared on Aug. 25, 2012 at 3 p.m., long before the flooding hit. The Division of Emergency Management went to a Level 2 activation and brought in senior management personnel to organize assistance as necessary.
The EOC was in contact with ITID, the Lake Worth Drainage District, the SFWMD and the Florida Division of Emergency Management during the impact period, and we did not turn down any request for any assistance. To the contrary, we did everything we could to help, including organizing rescues and supply deliveries for stranded residents working with the sheriff, fire-rescue and other agencies. All of your readers should know that emergency response plans expect residents to be prepared to survive on their own for at least three days without assistance in an emergency. Assistance was actually rendered more quickly. It is respectfully requested you publish this response so your readers are informed that county emergency management personnel did everything they could to assist the residents of the western communities.
If you have any further questions, please contact me at (561) 712-6470.
Assistant County Administrator Vince J. Bonvento,
Director, Public Safety Department