State of the City – The calm after the storm

Mayor John Sorey

Mayor John Sorey

As many of you know, January was a very active weather month. The most notable was Sunday, January 17th. At approximately 5:18 in the morning a “Tornado Warning” was issued for Collier County.

The City of Naples Fire-Rescue received the first storm related run at 5:30 a.m. and ran at least 44 additional incident responses since that time. It appears that at least one tornado came ashore in the 3600 block of Gordon Drive traveling in a Northeast direction. The storms brought a significant ocean storm surge that washed across the southern end of Gordon Drive with approximately a foot of standing water and debris.

The Annual Naples Daily News Half Marathon was cancelled at approximately 6:00 a.m. At 9:00 a.m., ocean waves were impinging upon beachfront home foundations, the City Pier was closed and it appears that the beach has been severely eroded.

The storms came across Port Royal, Aqualane Shores, Royal Harbor and Olde Naples. The damages in these areas range from trees down, heavy limbs snapped, fencing taken down, palm fronds snapped and lots of FPL wires down.

There were approximately 750 to 1000 homes and businesses without power in the City of Naples.

Fire-Rescue Department units first concentrated on removing trees from primary streets with chain saws and truck winches and then moved toward secondary street clearance. The NFR placed two additional reserve engine companies into service to handle any increase in emergency call volume.

A NPD officer was assigned to a city work crew to provide traffic control while debris and fallen trees/limbs were cleared from the roadways. By 7:40 a.m., only two intersections remained with inoperable traffic lights: 7th Ave. N./US 41 and 7th Ave. N./Goodlette Rd. N. (operational by 9:30 a.m.). The minor flooding along GSBN and GSBS had receded enough to allow slow passage by vehicles, although most of the City south of and citizens began assessing damage.

Staff within Parks and Parkways was contacted the morning of the storm and asked to come in for storm clean up as were others from various departments by their respective supervisors. The initial cleanup was done by City staff Parks and Parkways, Utilities, Police and Fire. By mid-afternoon on Sunday, a substantial amount of roads in the southern end of the city were debris free.  This was accomplished by either hauling debris away or moving it to the right-of-way. City staff continued cleanup efforts throughout the day.

On Monday, January 18th the Martin Luther King Day parade was scheduled to begin at 11 am. City staff from the Community Services and Utilities Department worked together to ensure the parade route and Cambier Park were free of branches and palm fronds.

Several large trees fell blocking roads entirely, these impassable roads were priority. In addition one of the city’s arborist began a tree/palm assessment from north to south. This effort identified broken limbs within the canopy, severely damaged canopies, and totally lost trees/palms.

Many of you know that Naples does not get this much rain at this time of year, The Southwest Florida Water Management District has reported January 2016 – rainfall 10.79” Historical average January rainfall 1.80”.

The City Manager brought in many staff to help both on Sunday and Monday (MLK Day) The city was up and ready for business, if we had a call from a resident our staff was there to answer the call.

Many folks asked me after the storm, if I was surprised how fast the City of Naples cleaned up and got back to business. That was one of the easiest questions I have had recently, simply… I am not surprised!

We have the best city staff that work together for the greater good, and that greater good is to always make Naples the best place to work, live and play! Safety has and will always be our number one priority of the City of Naples and I want to thank all of our residents and our city staff for working in a calm collaborative effort.

Each and every day I am inspired by something I see and hear in Naples. If you have something to share, please feel free to contact me at

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