In the wake of Hurricane Irma, 58 Missouri Department of Transportation employees and 18 Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks headed to Florida. They helped to clear roads and clean up parks, but now they have returned home.
The MoDOT employees left for Florida on Sept. 12 and returned on Sept. 21. The crews used a variety of equipment such as loaders, road tractors, backhoes, and chainsaws to clear debris off roads from downtown Miami through Coral Gables to Homestead in southeastern Florida.
“I’m so proud Missouri could assist in Florida’s time of need,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “Missourians from MoDOT and MoDNR demonstrated the true spirit of public service with their willingness to sacrifice precious time with their families to go sight unseen to help another state.”
During their week-long deployment, the Missouri State Parks team worked in two of Florida’s state parks, cleaning up fallen trees and other debris left by the Category-4 storm. According to reports, 168 of the state’s 174 state parks were closed due to storm damage. Missouri State Parks crew started working at Dade Historic Battlefield State Park between Tampa and Orlando. The crew then moved to Anastasia State Recreation Area near St. Augustine in northeast Florida, where they worked for the remainder of their deployment. They returned to Missouri on Sept. 19.
“After Hurricane Irma struck, Florida asked for help with the cleanup, and Missouri responded,” said Missouri State Parks Director Ben Ellis. “With very little notice, 18 of our folks paused their daily lives, packed up and headed to Florida to help others in need. We are happy to have helped clean up two of Florida’s state parks, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team’s hard work and dedication.”
The Florida Department of Transportation requested assistance from any available state on Sept. 9 as Hurricane Irma was approaching their state. Missouri was one of three states, including Delaware and Maryland, to send staff. This is the largest MoDOT deployment to assist another state. A small crew was sent to help Florida with signal repairs after a hurricane in 2005.