Column: Greetings from New Jersey

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After all the stress and hard work of dealing with Hurricane Irma, I escaped South Florida for a few days to visit my father in New Jersey. My first day here was spent enjoying a summer-like day in Cape May, with the refreshing ocean breeze and some great seafood. Back at my dad’s place, the autumn evenings mean great sleeping weather, a real treat after all the heat and humidity of South Florida.

Due to my father’s need to get his daily fix from Fox News, I watched the dire news from Puerto Rico which offered a not-so-pleasant reminder of the problems and destruction left behind in Florida and throughout the Caribbean. Having made it through Irma with no real damage to life and home, many in Wilton Manors need to be very thankful that a Category 5 hurricane did not make a direct hit on our area. Looking at the catastrophic damage from a direct hit by Hurricane Maria across Puerto Rico, it became even more evident that we here on our little island should be counting our blessings.

Many in our city have been complaining about the piles of storm debris and why it has taken so long to get it removed. Complaints about ruined lawns, all the mess, the inconvenience, etc.,. seems a bit frivolous compared to the near total devastation suffered in Puerto Rica and other islands in the Caribbean.

How close did we come to having a powerful Category 5 storm hit us during the final approach of Irma to the Florida coast? What kind of devastation would our Island City have suffered? Not something I ever want to find out or endure. That is why we need to keep our relatively minor inconveniences in perspective. We need to sit back and just breathe a sigh of relief instead of bitching on social media sites.

Be sure that our city leaders are doing whatever possible to move the storm clean-up and recovery efforts along as quickly as possible. Nobody would choose listening to angry residents complaining rather than doing what can be done to take care of the problems left behind from such a far-reaching storm as Irma. The enormous scope of Irma’s wrath has made the region’s recovery so much harder. However, looking at piles of storm debris ruining my front lawn is a hell of a lot better than seeing piles of my destroyed home along the curbside or piles of molded belongings ruined by flood waters.

As my attention is drawn to the PBS series on Vietnam that my father surprisingly decided to break away from Fox News to watch, I hear John Lennon’s, “Let it Be” playing in the background. Perhaps this is the best advice for us to heed at this time. Just let it be. Rather than complaining, pointing fingers, creating negative hearsay commentary on-line, perhaps it’s best just to let it be. There will be an answer, just let it be. The debris is getting picked up, according to the latest news from the city.

Yes, they started on Jenada Isles, not because that is where the Mayor lives, as some have complained; but because it’s the farthest point west and the starting point to begin the move eastward. Everyone should sign up for updates from the city and be sure to separate your storm debris. Vegetation (tree limbs and such) must be piled separately from yard debris fencing, lawn items and such) because it is collected separately by two different contractors.

The debris will all be collected at some point, bulk trash will get back on schedule, our lawns will recover, and life will return to normal sooner than later in our little island paradise.

Unfortunately that will not be the case for islands such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Let us not forget how lucky we are before we look to bitch and complain. Let us remember the suffering and complete loss that so many are experiencing this Hurricane season.

That is not to say that we should just turn a blind eye to faults in the system or problems in our neighborhoods that need attention. If companies that the city has contracted with failed to live up to their contractual agreements, we need to address these concerns. If infrastructure within our city failed or needs attention, then we must make sure our city government is moving to take care of these problems. This type of constructive engagement is what will make our city better prepared for future storms and will benefit residents and our neighborhoods.

City management has reached out to neighborhood associations looking to engage with residents to see how the city can do better and where we need to make improvements. First up will be the Westside Association of Wilton Manors, WAWM, meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5th, starting 7 pm at the Hagen Park Community Center. This positive engagement between residents and our city leaders is what makes life just better here….

 


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