Fort Myers city councilman says the city isn’t doing enough storm prep

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Downtown Fort Myers. (Credit: WINK News)

There is a call for action as Fort Myers faces the possibility of strong wind and rain due to Subtropical Storm Nicole.

Is the city ready for what Nicole may bring? It depends on who you ask. At least one member of the city council says the city isn’t doing enough.

It has been a little more than a month since Hurricane Ian hammered Southwest Florida, and there’s the possibility of another storm.

Nicole is not expected to be anything close to Ian, but when you’re in charge of keeping people safe, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said, you take no chances, no matter the size of the storm.

“Don’t look at this as a tropical storm. Look at it as another potential threat to Southwest Florida. Start planning now. If you plan, you won’t have to panic,” said Anderson.

On Monday, the governor declared a State of Emergency due to Nicole, which includes Lee County.

Fort Myers Public Works Director Peter Bieniek said the city is on alert, despite the fact Nicole is approaching Florida and will hit the east coast first.

“We’ve already sent our staff out and asked them to go ahead and do pre-checks, looking at our stormwater ditches, making sure everything’s open and clear to do the best we can,” said Bieniek.

Fort Myers debris pile. (Credit: WINK News)

The biggest concerns are debris piles, damaged homes, and homes with tarps. All hazards if strong winds or heavy rains blow through.

Home with a tarped roof in Fort Myers. (Credit: WINK News)

Fort Myers City Councilman Fred Burson said he’s not worried. “I don’t even know if it’s gonna be more than a tropical storm. And we get those kinds of things all the time anyway.”

Councilman Liston Bochette said that approach is a problem. “Stop living on fantasy island.”

Bochette believes the city isn’t doing enough

“Let’s be big boys, big girls. And let’s just do better. I think we constantly need to be revising our security and safety. In this case, crisis plans. We tried to pass a motion for our crisis management plan, which failed to be approved,” said Bochette.

He asks them to step up.

“I’m not afraid of taking the bull by the horns and saying we can do better. Apparently, we’re just following county and state guidelines,” said Bochette. “The city needs to be a leader, not a follower. I’m advocating the city take a leadership role.”

As for Lee County and its storm preparation, a spokesperson said no one was available to talk on camera. She said public safety emergency management is actively monitoring Nicole.

Lee County is holding a press conference on Tuesday at around 10 a.m. in regard to Subtropical Storm Nicole, and WINK News will bring you that press conference when it happens.

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