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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017 11 months ago

After Irma, a frustrating lack of communication with the county

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I would like for information to be accurate and not to serve some agenda.

By Heather Post

Guest Writer

I would like to express my sincere appreciation and pride at how our community, our cities, our county, our state, has come together in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Having worked every hurricane that has come through Central Florida since 1992 in a law enforcement capacity (aside from Hurricane Matthew), I know a little something about emergency response. There were so many “boots-on-the-ground” people working across the board to regain services, assisting our at-risk populations, and helping neighbors.

As a whole, we were extremely lucky in terms of damage and injury. (My own husband was injured with a head injury during hurricane preparations! He’s fine now.) But I spoke to many people out in the community who were devastatingly affected. The woman and her dog who endured more than a foot of rising floodwaters in their home, alone in the darkness of the early morning hours; the senior who had to be carried down three flights of stairs to receive medical treatment when an elevator became inoperable in her senior living facility; the single mother whose home, vehicle, and most personal belongings were destroyed in the tornado, and so many others.

It was important for me to have some assessment of damage in District 4 immediately afterward, to ensure citizens that help was coming, and to ensure that needs were met. I was terribly frustrated when this was impeded on many levels, and the frustration I felt during and in the aftermath of this hurricane event was a catalyst for the public statement I made during the County Council meeting on Sept. 21.

I was elected to represent the people of District 4, to be the face of my district, and to serve and respond to the needs of those citizens. If there was ever a more poignant time for me to be prominent, accessible and to have or to be able to get the answers when questions are asked, it is during a crisis. Being purposely left out of the loop and for me to have to jump through hoops to assist the citizens in a timely manner in a time of crisis was unacceptable.

This was, on a larger scale, the repeated issue I have brought up since I took office. 

There needs to be transparency. There needs to be communication. There has been reference that the County Charter dictates that our only role is to approve policies; however, that is incorrect. That is one of our main roles but not the only one.

And if I, as an elected official am only here to approve the policies at the last minute that the county manager places before me with little to no explanation, then I’m sorry, but that’s not what I campaigned for and ran to do, and I’m certain that’s not what the citizens elected me to do.

I came into this office with an open mind, and I would simply like the communication that I need for me to function best in my role. And I would like for information to be accurate and not to serve some agenda. I do not think that is too much to ask for the citizens of District 4.

Heather Post represents District 4 on the Volusia County Council.

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