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16 Comments
Nancy Smith

Katie Edwards' Eye on the Storm Turned into Genuine Public Service

September 13, 2017 - 8:15am
Katie Edwards
Katie Edwards

Apart from Gov. Rick Scott and some members of the Florida Cabinet, did you see any elected official who worked harder to get constituents through Hurricane Irma than state Rep. Katie Edwards?

I certainly didn't.

In five days, starting Thursday, Sept. 7, Democrat Edwards used email and social media to inform a nervous District 98  what was available, what to do when, what to expect, how to prepare before the category 4 storm to ease the pain when it was over.

I Beg to Differ

Edwards didn't have to do it. It was an above-and-beyond-the-call public service effort from a busy practicing attorney and state representative in her third term in the Florida House.

Have a look at the range of issues Edwards covered in her main posts. Click on the links. This is practical information with shortcuts to a quicker recovery:

  • Sept. 7: Emergency Support Functions by State Emergency Response Team. Soup-to-nuts rundown of what the state had going on at the time, from public health to college closings, from Lake Okeechobee protection to phone numbers and addresses for the Emergency Operations Center.
  • Sept. 8: Residents Encouraged to Bookmark Home Damage Assessment Tool. How to use the Home Damage Assessment tool, vital to help first responders. Everything to assess your own home provided to get you started.
  • Sept. 8: Hurricane Irma: Citizens Is Ready to Help. How and when to report a loss and file a claim with the state's insurer of last resort -- all necessary information provided.
  • Sept. 11: FEMA: What to Do if You Have Damage and Need Help. Everything you need to know to begin applying for federal disaster assistance. 

Remember, up until the day before Irma made landfall, the National Weather Center was talking about Edwards' South Florida district "in the projected path." And some of the towns and cities she represents -- Plantation, for example -- were originally carved out of the Everglades. It's an area that can suffer flooding after a heavy rain.

Harry Winters, a Sunshine State News reader and transplanted New York cab driver, told me,"Katie isn't my rep, I live in Fort Lauderdale. But I'm on her email list, and this stuff she sent out about the storm came at just the right time. She helped me think the storm through," he said. "I took pictures of everything in my house, I got ready and kind of felt confident on Sunday. ... She gets some of the credit."

Edwards explained Tuesday she has a communication habit that goes back to her days at the Dade County Farm Bureau.  "I started as director of communications there.  We developed a crisis communications plan. I got information from all the different agencies and coordinated it. Over the years I developed a fairly large database, which is what helped me put together the Hurricane Irma information."

Edwards likely isn't done. She has a long list of observations in the storm's aftermath, relating many of them to helping businesses reopen and Floridians get back to work. She said legislators will have learned lessons from Irma, which we need to document. "We need to correct the laws that are failing us," she said. 

In the meantime, the representative from Plantation deserves the thanks her community is giving her. Her public service effort during Irma's frightening approach was truly stellar.

UPDATED AT 11;20 A.M. TO CORRECT REP. KATIE EDWARDS' TERM OF OFFICE: EDWARDS IS SERVING HER THIRD TERM AND WILL RUN IN 2018 TO SERVE HER LAST TERM IN THE FLORIDA HOUSE. 

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith 


READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS

Irma Destroys 25 Percent of Homes in the Keys, FEMA Says

Irma's Earliest Cost Projection: Between $64 Billion and $92 Billion​

Comments

Katie has been one that we know we can trust! Who cares what political party she is with. Rep. Edwards is there for all of us. My husband works hard for the SFWMD and Rep. Edwards understands the difficulties of flood control in South and Central Florida. I am just a simple public school employee. I have the most respect for her. Stay strong Rep Edwards! Lot's of folks will hit you hard. I doubt you will flex. You are too good. Once again Nancy has demonstrated educated journalism and was not afraid to write it. Thanks!

REFRESHING,..a creative politician who actually "works" during times of mass, stressful events,..without a mandatory video camera recording her every move for "campaign $$"..(and without the usual riposte for votes in an imminent election cycle) !

I always enjoy reading all her Facebook posts. She is very informative and always has a good perspective on things happening.

I posted an earlier comment but it isn't posted. Just wanted to thank you for putting out so much valuable information. Representative Edwards truly cares about her constituents. Thank you!!!

None of these show boaters has done anything to help in Sarasota County. In the shelters people were sleeping on the concrete floors. Where were the cots that were supposed to be brought to the shelters? None were seen, except the ones pvt. citizens brought with them. I didn't see any trucks of water. No Walmart trucks and Rick Scott was running everywhere telling how he had everything all set to go. He's not capable of running a dog pound. No votes in Sarasota county for him next year and Pam " The Blondie" when asked about the price gouging, said " We are going to shame all these companies. Do your job, which you don't know how to and prosecute them. That's what you're paid for. No votes for her next year when she runs for governor. What a great job Governor Abbott did in Texas from a wheelchair. I remember Jeb Bush during and after Charlie. What a fantastic hands on job that man did. Scott is the worst governor we've had in the 42 years I've been in Florida. Watched the Weather Channel at a friends house and they were showing how the governor was not allowing them to take pictures of the damage. and not one person there doing anything to help. This is so horrible . The FPL sent in a message they might get my elect. on by Sept. 22 and yet they are all over Naples, Miami and Key West where there's nobody there. I'm hoping that the media can get someone into Fl. to help. Everybody in Fl. is not rich. We work everyday for a living and pay taxes to these air breathers.

You had me,.. until you tried to vault "Jebbie" into the "honor category" (nope, nada, no how, no way)

Could not imagine being in a shelter with you....complain much??

Sorry. But, I was too busy getting volumes of information from Congressman Brian Mast to notice any background noise.

Who???????

come on give all of us that suffered IRMA...a break....Politicize AGAIN Liberals do gooders a Disaster....I didn't see her OUT on THE STREETS like First Responser...Fema...Red Cross ,National Guard...& Neighbors of others HELPING IN PERSON.....yeah right Behind a Desk Playing SOCIAL MEDIA...GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.....those on FRONT LINES......and STOP this POLITICAL CRAP...you SO-CALL Journalist...WRITE......

Stand down private

Very proud of my daughter. Helping others for the reason of only caring about other people should be why people hold public office

Katie Edwards has a true servant's heart. She hasn't changed since the first time I met her on 2002.

Thank you for mentioning that she wasn't running for anything.

Yes!! She's is a true public servant! I'm very proud of her!

That's my girl!!

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