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City provides update, Cape Council agrees to prolong state of emergency

By CJ Haddad - | Oct 3, 2022

Cape Coral extended its state of local emergency for another seven days Monday afternoon at a special meeting of the Cape Coral City Council.

Council unanimously voted to prolong the local state of emergency, which will start Tuesday, with Mayor John Gunter having the power to rescind in the time frame, or extend, depending on circumstances throughout the city. Per Florida statutes, states of emergency are in seven-day increments.

In a press conference that followed the meeting, City Manager Rob Hernandez called Hurricane Ian the largest natural disaster in the Cape’s 52-year history.

“We’ve make progress over these last five days, and we’re working to get the city back on its feet,” Hernandez said. “We’re asking residents to be patient. If you don’t need to be out on the road, please stay home.”

Gunter reminded residents to use water only for essential uses, and to continue boiling for cooking or consumption.

He said while water has been wholly restores, 400 sewage lift stations throughout the city are still without power and officials hope to have portable generators at each location soon.

“Please use your water wisely,” Gunter said.

As far as power, Gunter said LCEC expects 95% of the city to be back on by Oct. 8. He said there are 1,000 FPL workers in the northern part of Cape Coral with 1,000 more expected to arrive shortly.

As arduous restoration work starts across the Cape, council warned home and property owners to make sure contractors are licensed in the state of Florida.

Gunter, who is a licensed contractor, said individuals should have an issued card from the state or, if from out of state, have documentation they have been approved to work in Florida.

“Unlicensed handymen and scammers will be in our city,” Gunter said, also stating large sums of money should not be paid up front.

Council also approved to wave emergency permit fees for the next 180 days. Permits will be broken down into three categories depending on the severity of damage. Hernandez has enlisted additional help for the permitting office for the upcoming infiltration.

Permits for livable structures such as RVs on properties have been waived for the next 180 days, as well as the number of storage containers allowed on properties.

Councilmember Gloria Tate proposed a site near the Yact Club, an area of the Cape hit drastically, where residents could have access to paperwork needed to be filed at City Hall.

“Everyone’s life is on the curb down there. It’s a war zone,” Tate said.

Hernandez and Cape Coral Fire Department Chief Ryan Lamb stated they could make something happen.

There are currently two distribution sites for water, ice, and food, one being at the Cape Coral Sports Complex, and the other at the old military museum at 4820 Leonard St. Both sites are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gunter said the city is working to provide two additional sites.The “SOS Squad” has arrived in Cape Coral passing out information, as well as food, water, and cleaning supplies. Gunter expects the Red Cross to join the SOS teams on Tuesday. Gunter said the city is also working on sites for portable hygiene stations that include bathrooms, showers, and portable charging stations. Those locations are to be determined.

Waste Pro is on a routine schedule and is only picking up trash, not debris or horticulture waste.

Gunter said a remote site for horticulture drop-off will open on Tuesday at 1130 N.W. 28th Place. Those dropping off will need to show proof of Cape Coral residency via their driver’s license.

Debris can also be left on the curb in three separate piles: vegetation, construction, and appliances.

City official also warned residents to stay away from downed power lines and to keep generators at least 20 feet away from their home in a well-ventilated area. The Cape Coral Fire Department has already received calls concerning carbon monoxide poisoning. Operators should let their generators cool before refueling with the power off.

Council also postponed all non-urgent meetings throughout the month, but will still convene on Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. The Committee of the Whole, or workshop, meeting is still scheduled for Oct. 19.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj