October 14, 2022 7:00am

Local leaders say city performed well in dealing with Hurricane Ian

Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm here, but movers and shakers give thumbs up to Jacksonville government's performance

Photo of Drew Dixon
By Drew Dixon
Jacksonville, FL Correspondent

This month’s Power Poll Jacksonville focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which only skirted the First Coast and has Jacksonville movers and shakers a bit shaken, but relieved the storm left no serious damage in its wake here.

We polled power players in Jacksonville to get their reactions barely a week after Ian passed this area. While Ian was a Category 4 hurricane when it slammed Southwest Florida and plowed across the Florida peninsula between Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, the system was downgraded to Tropical Storm Ian when it passed Jacksonville. The storm went out into the Atlantic Ocean in this area before regenerating into a Category 1 hurricane and moving on to hit the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Still, a majority of movers and shakers in Jacksonville approve of the city’s handling of the event and gave credit to Mayor Lenny Curry and local governments who declared a state of emergency and opened shelters while not calling for mandatory evaluations.

Some 48% of the Power Poll respondents said the local government reaction was well done and they handled everything like pros while making residents feel safe. Still, another 45% said Ian and its impact here wasn’t a real test and we missed the serious threat while 3% of those taking part in the survey said the local reaction as not good and an equal percentage said they had no opinion or don’t know.

“We did as good as job as we've ever done for storm prep and in the absence of great impacts, that course of action seems prudent,” said Ciera Smith, the government affairs director of the Realtors company in Jacksonville and a participant in October’s poll. “But we need comprehensive and innovative solutions Jax hasn't even started on before the next “big one” does come to town. We know it's only a matter of time.”

A vast majority of participants in the survey say they personally were pretty prepared for the storm. An overwhelming 87% said they paid close attention and watched weather reports but weren’t all that worried. Another 6% said they were rattled and thought the area was going to get slammed while 5% said they didn’t know what to expect and 2% had no opinion.

Another vast majority of respondents – 87% -- said they took minimal precautions by stocking up on some food, removing loose items from the yard and sheltered in place. Some 10% said they took no precautions and hunkered down in place while 3% said they boarded up windows and/or evacuated and left the area.

When it comes to the area’s preparations for the storm in general, 52% of poll participants said the area was probably as prepared as we could be and our experience will better prepare us for the next big storm. Meanwhile, participants were split on other elements of that question with 23% saying we are not ready for such a massive storm and 23% saying there’s no way anyone can prepare for a storm like that. Another 3% said they don’t know or had no opinion.

Thanks for catching up with October’s Power Poll. I’m Drew Dixon and be on the lookout for November’s Power Poll where we tap the opinions of our local movers and shakers.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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