Coming Together for Hurricane Michael

By Director Barbara Palmer

I want to say a big Thank You to so many clients, providers, Waiver Support Coordinators (WSCs), stakeholders, advocates, APD employees, and many more who came together before, during, and after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on October 10. I am very proud of the work everyone has done and is continuing to do to support our customers and staff through this major disaster.

Hurricane Michael was nearly a category 5 hurricane that tore through many communities in the Panhandle, leaving them devastated. The Northwest Region, under the extraordinary leadership of Regional Operations Manager Lynne Daw, was and is the most affected APD region. Also, Sunland Superintendent Geraldine Williams is leading the effort to get Sunland back to full restoration after being hit hard by the hurricane. The Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program had damage to its building in Gadsden County as well. Many people in the Panhandle lost their homes and businesses, including some APD employees, clients, and providers. It will take years for the state to fully recover from this destructive event.

I am so pleased with how our agency and partners pulled together to ensure the health and safety of our clients. We worked with federal, state, and community agencies to ensure our customers made it safely through this horrendous storm and are now working diligently to continue the important recovery process.

We had many APD super stars, two of whom manned the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. APD employees Eddie Kay Harris and Doug Roberts spent and continue to spend innumerable hours working on behalf of APD, our partners, and everyone we serve. They were able to work with the state emergency response team to obtain resources needed to begin recovery activities. They were instrumental in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to work together with Florida Public Utilities to assist Sunland Center with their monumental power issues—bringing needed resolution as quickly as possible.

I am amazed at the willingness of APD employees, WSCs, providers, families, and many others who always go above and beyond to serve our customers. Hurricane Michael showed the world that we have one of the best and most compassionate agencies in state government. We are all in different phases of recovery from this monstrous weather event. Together we are stronger, working with our local, state, and federal partners, and we will recover! Thank you again.

Doug Roberts is the Deputy Branch Director for Human Services which manages four ESFs (Emergency Support Functions).

The Tide Loads of Hope truck made a stop at Sunland Center to help with cleaning laundry during the recovery effort.

APD Director Barbara Palmer and Sunland Superintendent Geri Williams met with representatives from Florida Public Utilities.