Wilma Is the Fifth Major Hurricane to Hit Florida in 14 Months

As Wilma became the fifth major hurricane to hit the state in just over a year, Florida's emergency managers were being praised as the best in the business, and the managers earned their salaries the moment the storm hit.

As Wilma hit, the calls started coming to the Emergency Operations Center.

“A large hotel by the lake has lost its roof. That's an unconfirmed report.”

The large hotel was actually a hospital. The call prompted a quick meeting, which resulted in an evacuation.

Within minutes of the storm passing, the first assessments were in.

Mike DeLorenzo is the chief of the state’s Emergency Response Team and says, “The National Guard is on the ground now. There is no power; they might have a problem with the area’s water system, but they are saying moderate to light damage.”

Millions were initially without power, and Jeb Bush was calling on utilities to give their customers realistic expectations about when the lights would come back on.

“Angry citizens are bad for governors, so we don't like that, so we make the utility companies understand that as well. Angry citizens are angry customers.”

While the storm has already passed, all the people at the state EOC in Tallahassee will be working with the recovery effort for weeks to come.

Just after noon, Jeb Bush was on his way to Naples and Immokalee to get a firsthand look and to give moral support.

“Part of this is to make sure as the winds subside; people know the response is coming,” he says.

Bush plans a repeat trip Tuesday, probably hitting the Keys and getting a look at the state’s east coast. The governor says he expects a full assessment of the damage by late Tuesday.


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