Congressman Francis Rooney reflects on Hurricane Irma

Francis Rooney

I appreciate the opportunity to write a few words for Life In Naples magazine. We have had a challenging few weeks in Southwest Florida and what I was planning to write changed drastically with the landfall of Hurricane Irma. Response to Irma can be divided into three categories; preparation, assessment of impact and recovery.

Taking the warnings about a category four or five hurricane seriously means the difference between life and death. As Irma moved towards Southwest Florida our office focused on providing the most up-to-date information on evacuating, emergency preparedness, shelter locations and storm trajectory. We shared information from federal, state, county and local agencies and coordinated with the Trump Administration and Governor Scott to ensure that disaster declarations were made quickly to expedite the prepositioning of supplies. At all levels, the flow of information, efficiency of evacuations and overall storm preparation went well.

Emergency response began immediately after the winds and rains subsided, as volunteers joined first responders to begin the
clean-up. The Emergency Operation Centers worked well in all areas, from Cape Coral to Lee and Collier County and Marco
Island, to focus and organize responses. Our area law enforcement personnel, first responders, EOC staff and volunteers performed outstanding work under these very trying circumstances. Their tireless efforts in the immediate aftermath of Irma no doubt saved many lives.

Our local District 19 team, supported by some of our Washington staff, executed on these initiatives, distributing food and water, coordinating with FPL to get power restored to critical assets, such as the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples, holding “FEMA fairs” with a multitude of state and federal agencies to expedite assistance, and touring the hardest hit areas of our community with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Governor Scott, so they would understand the immediacy of our needs and would work quickly to honor any requests for assistance.

Additionally, neighbors assisted friends and strangers alike with, food, water, shelter, fuel for generators and assistance with moving heavy debris. This spirit of giving, which makes Southwest Florida such a great place to call home, was on full display. We now begin the recovery phase, where we rebuild and replant. We need to know every individual’s problems or ideas so we can work on solutions.

I have seen extraordinary acts of generosity and kindness in our community these past few weeks. Our fellow citizens have risen to support their neighbors in an unprecedented manner. Despite our hardships we can be comforted by the community in which we are so fortunate to live.


Lee County Office
1039 S.E. 9th Place • Suite 308
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Phone: 239.599.6033

Collier County Office
3299 Tamiami Trail East • Suite 105
Naples, FL 34112
Phone: 239.252.6225

Washington, DC Office
120 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.2536

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