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Municipal district hosts emergency operations meeting

July 17, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Community leaders, local agencies and church organizations from Lehigh Acres and Lee County gathered at a meeting of the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services District last Thursday to share information on Emergency Operations.

LA-MSID Commissioner Michael Welch, who is the Emergency Operations director and coordinator, opened the session by having each agency representative introduce themselves. He then gave a brief overview of a list of discussion items on the afternoon's agenda.

District Manager David Lindsay gave a brief presentation on the district's boundaries and waterways. Currently the district's infrastructure is comprised of 311 mile of canals, 20 lakes and 1,298 preserve acres.

Article Photos

LA-MSID Commissioner Michael Welch awards Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass with the Hurricane Hero Award and Commissioner Frank Mann was presented with an award of recognition for his service to the community.


According to Lindsay, over the past two years the district has worked closely with the county to make sure that the waterways and stormwater management systems are functioning properly in case of another natural disaster.

"I have spoken to a representative at the county and they are almost finished with clearing of the Orange River to Hickeys Creek and Nine Mile Run, which are waterways very important to this area of the county. We are also working on several ways to communicate during the case of an emergency. We have a hardline and have placed an order for Iridium satellite cell phones similar to the EOC's," Lindsay explained.

Another important step taken this year is the addition of two seats at Lee County's Emergency Operations Center to be held by local agency heads; Lehigh Fire Chief Robert DiLallo and District Manager David Lindsay.

Following Lindsay's presentation, Welch went over some of the issues faced during Hurricane Irma, which included loss of communication, senior citizen issues and loss of power at critical structures such as Lehigh Acres Regional Medical Center.

"During Irma we saw a lot of issues especially at the local hospital, which lost power during the storm. LCEC focused on the hospital first and got it up and going. There was also chaos in the emergency room and people dropping off elderly just to have a place to go. We need to work closely with local senior organizations and get a plan formulated for the elderly, poor, and shut-ins in our community," Welch said.

Kenneth G. Sanger, the Chief Nursing Officer at Lehigh Regional, brought up a concern that the hospital had if a natural disaster did present itself this season.

"Our hospital's third floor is currently closed, so we are operating at 53 beds. Obviously that's a concern to us because our third floor was where we housed both patients and staff through the storm, but we are making accommodations. We have three power feeds going into our generator, so we are comfortable with our power situation," Sanger said.

Lee County School board Chair and District 5 representative Gwyn Gittens also reported that the school district added extra shelters this year.

"We added four new schools on the list of shelters. Our staff and county staff will be operating the shelters," Gittens said.

City of Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson made closing remarks and gave thanks that while hurricane Irma caused a lot of damage, neither the City of Fort Myers nor Lee County lost a single citizen.

Two officials were recognized for their efforts.

Prior to beginning the meeting, Welch took time to present Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass with an Hurricane Hero Award, for his efforts prior to and post Hurricane Irma in 2017.

"On behalf of the district and our people, words can't express what you did for us through the hurricane, so on behalf of the district we want to present you with this award," Welch said.

Pendergrass shared the credit with the collective hard work of everyone in the room.

"Everyone in this room, the county and its staff are all heroes for the work and progress made these past two years. The school board with all their shelters, the churches and other organizations. Everyone in this room really came together during Irma. I don't know what the future holds, but we are prepared. Knock on wood we don't have to go through it again," Pendergrass said.

Commissioner Frank Mann was also presented with an award of recognition for his service to the community.

For more information on Lee County Emergency Management visit



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