Irma sandbag distribution to surpass Matthew totals in Brevard

Sheriff says county 'absolutely' prepared for Cat 5 storm

By James Sparvero - Reporter

VIERA, Fla. - Waiting a few hours Wednesday for sandbags distributed by the sheriff's office was worth every minute for thousands of Brevard County residents.

"Everybody's being proactive finally," said Donald Bickham, from Viera.

"We just have to be patient. It's going to be a long road ahead if it hits us," said Linda Jordano, who told News 6 she waited in line for four hours.

Bickham and Jordano each took home 10 bags, some of the tens of thousands expected to be distributed by Saturday.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey said it's a good sign of people being proactive ahead of potential catastrophe.

"Watching what just happened out in Texas has certainly added to everybody's awareness of what we need to do and potentially how bad a storm of this magnitude could be," said Ivey, who told News 6 he believes Brevard County is prepared for Hurricane Irma. "I absolutely believe we are. I can tell you from a public safety perspective, we are as prepared as we potentially ever could be."

The sheriff expressed his confidence despite Hurricane Matthew last year exposing just how outdated the county's Emergency Operations Center building is.

[More News 6 Irma coverage: Hurricane Irma impacts schools | Hurricane Irma becomes strongest storm on record | LIVE UPDATES: Hurricane Irma churns in Atlantic]

The EOC facility in Rockledge opened in 1964.

Power, plumbing and air-conditioning issues popped up last fall during around-the-clock occupancy during Matthew.

However, leaders said the people working in the facility are more important to your safety than the building itself.

"Definitely, it's the right people for the job because we have all the essential people here to make key decisions once the storm or disaster occurs," said Don Walker, with Brevard County emergency management.

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