Crews revisit Irma aftermath in Daytona North ahead of 2018 hurricane season

Sheriff's Office works to improve emergency response for upcoming season

DAYTONA NORTH, Fla. – Months after Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida, News 6 revisited Daytona North, one of the hardest-hit areas, in May to see how much progress residents had made since the storm ripped through it.

For many days following the storm, the emergency response team at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office delivered food and water to those in need, especially in Daytona North. 

Since then, deputies have gone through extensive training and gotten new pieces of equipment to be even more prepared for the upcoming season, which, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could bring more tropical activity than normal. 

Between downed trees and heavy flooding, the emergency response team works year-round to be fully prepared and trained for any situation when a hurricane strikes.

Sgt. David Edmonds, with the emergency response team, was in Daytona North after Irma hit.

He said many people didn’t evacuate, since the area wasn’t expected to flood as badly as it did. Those who stayed were not able to get out after the storm.

 "It was kind of sketchy,” Edmonds said. “You're kind of out on your own. You had to clear the roads for yourself."

In September, News 6 tagged along with deputies from the emergency response team as they delivered food and water to residents trapped inside their homes days after the storm.

Teresa Patterson, one of the residents who received help from the team, said she was thankful it was able to bring some sort of relief.

"This just makes me happy,” Patterson said.

Patterson remembers when the team first brought the supplies.

“She's, like, ‘We've got water,’ and I'm, like, ‘Yes!’” Patterson said.

She said it was difficult to watch water rush into her home and a struggle to spend 17 days without power, during which all her food spoiled. 

At that point, she said, the emergency response team was a welcome sight. 

"We got the MRE meals (meals ready to eat) --  I'm going to cry. -- and the water. And that was a relief, just to see somebody,” Patterson said. “And we were minor compared to Puerto Rico and other places. We were minor, but very grateful to see that water, that food and just a person -- to see a human, you know, another human being."

Patterson said her house still has rafters missing and a leak, but she's doing better now and is grateful that her home of 15 years is still standing.

She told the crews who helped her that their assistance had meant the world to her during the difficult season.

“Just seeing y'all come out here that day was a welcome pleasure, just to know that somebody was out there saying, ‘Are they OK? Can we help someone?’” Patterson said.

Edmonds has spent time reflecting on how the emergency response team was able to help and tries to think of ways it could have offered more assistance.

Overall, he thinks the team's efforts went a long way.

“I think we did fairly well for the equipment that we had. We were able to provide pretty good service to the community,” Edmonds said. “Those people were really just kind of helpless. Their cars, they couldn't move them. They were underwater, so we kind of felt like they were dependent on us just to survive.”

He said using military vehicles and chainsaws to get to residents was very helpful. The emergency response team currently has 15 members, but officials said it plans on hiring five more in the future.

Meanwhile, Patterson said, she’s already begun stocking up on supplies for the 2018 hurricane season, and finds comfort in knowing help will be on the way if she needs it.

“I have pets and I'm just not going to leave. I don't have a vehicle that'll transport me to get away from this stuff, so I'll just give it to the Lord and ride it out and hope he spares me,” she said. “That's the truth."

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