News Cast 10/20

News Cast for October 20th:

FEMA is Helping Okeechobee

FEMA officials will open a disaster reception center today.

Jeff Monroe told the county it will be open 7 days per week from 9 am until 6 pm.

They have helped 794 Okeechobee households so far.

The center will be able to help with applications and answer questions.  The expect to be in Okeechobee into November.

The county said they have collected over 24 thousand cubic yards of debris in the county and city from Hurricane Ian and area making steady progress.

A four-man crew from Okeechobee County Fire Rescue spent 10 days on the coast helping the City of Boca Grande recover from the storm.

Lt. Matt Hopkins said the people of South West Florida were keeping their spirits up.

“Everyone was in very good moods for what had just happened.  Everybody was happy we were there helping out.  Everyone lent a helping hand with everything.  It was awesome to see.”

Others deployed included driver engineer Todd Brimey and fire fighter EMTS Wesley White and AJ Pegler.

Chief Earl Wooten also was deployed in another part of Lee County.

The crews helped assess damage, responded to calls, and provided an extra water source in case of fires.

Lt. Hopkins said he saw mostly power lines down and about 20 percent of the buildings suffered damage.  He noted one radio tower had fallen destroying several businesses.

“It was a great experience.  It was nice to help out people that needed help.  Everyone worked hard.  Everyone appreciated what we were doing and happy about the work we did.”

Wooten said the crew really did the job that had to be done.

“We are very proud of them stepping up to help those in need.  Lee County definitely had a need and our guys stepped up.”

The crew was deployed under the State Emergency Response Team program.

If Okeechobee had similar damage they would have received assistance from other Florida communities.

The Glades County School Board discussed campus security.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Greseth said they do what they can to make it hard for intruders to get on campus

They are considering more fences and cameras and controlling access.

A huge part of the plan is making sure doors and gates are locked.

School Board member Jean Prowant emphasized that searches are allowed on campus.

“Legally you can search them.  You can search the backpack.  You can pat down boys and girls.  Unless that law has changed.  We could do that back in the day.”

The South Florida Water Management District plans to add two primitive campsites at the 4 E airboat launch located near the Kissimmee River in northwest Okeechobee.

Outdoorsman admit its hard to reserve a campsite at any location in Florida due to the demand.

Brad Ryewalk with the Kissimmee Valley Sportsmans Association said his members want to do an event down the Kissimmee River when things are safe.

They want to view the restored river and see the benefits it has brought to wildlife and the environment.