As Martha Graham, Public Works Director, and Wade Giddens, Utility Field Operations
Manager look on (left to right, standing), John Regan, City Manager (in red shirt),
speaks with members of the team just before their departure for Tallahassee.
City deploys personnel and equipment to Tallahassee
in response to state-wide assistance alert
City of St. Augustine Public Works Department has deployed a team to assist with disaster recovery efforts in Tallahassee, FL, where the city suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Hermine on Thursday.
Five personnel from the Water Division, including pump station operators, utility operators, and mechanics led by Wade Giddens, Utility Field Operations Manager, departed the Public Works compound at 3:00 pm today. The team carried with them two portable bypass pumps, two utility trucks, and a box van complete with tools, materials, and supplies, including water, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and a portable generator.
“Choosing personnel from the Water Division was a wise and strategic decision by Wade,” said Martha Graham, Public Works Director, “as this allows our local team to remain at full strength while also send personnel to assist another Florida city.”
One of the highest priorities during disaster recovery is preventing water-borne disease, second only to maintaining clean drinking water. Much of the city’s effort in Tallahassee will be to expedite restoration of centralized water and waste-water service, a critical life service, while power is being restored to the area.
Well over 100 of Tallahassee’s pump stations were without power following the storm. To put that in perspective, the City of St. Augustine alone has 70 pump stations.
“We are helping people who are in dire need and we have to pay it forward because one day we will be making the same call,” said St. Augustine City Manager John Regan. “By helping Tallahassee, we also build the professionalism and disaster relief expertise of our work force for that time when we are in a time of crisis. Truly, the character of our employees is demonstrated in their quick response to help others.”
Just prior to their departure to Tallahassee, members of the Public Works assistance
team stood for a photo with City Manager John Regan and Public Works Director,
Martha Graham. Left to right are David Fridell, Foreman II; Wade Giddens,
Utility Field Operations Manager; Jeff Aldrich, Utility Locator; Kirby Booth, Utility
Systems Technician; John Regan; and Martha Graham. Also on the team
but not pictured is Willy Congolez, Mechanic.
The call for assistance came via FLAWARN, a statewide emergency alert system of which the City of St, Augustine is a member. This bulletin board system, similar in process to the regional Code Red system, is used to call for aid from all members throughout Florida when emergencies happen, and in this case, when disaster strikes.
“The city’s expert operators and skilled workers responded to the call willingly because they know the people of Tallahassee need our help,” said Regan “The unspoken reality is that next time a storm strikes, it could the City of St. Augustine putting out the FLAWARN alert asking for help."