Community to County Commisioners: Post-Irma Response Was Not Good Enough

This year’s Miami-Dade County budget hearings were dominated residents and volunteers who had helped out neighbors in vulnerable communities before and after Hurricane Irma.

Liberty City community activist and (and NewFM leader) Valencoa Gunder, FLIC Votes’ Thomas Kennedy and the CLEO Institute’s Caroline Lewis were just some of the speakers that spoke in front of County Commisioners Tuesday, September 18.

For almost two hours, speaker after speaker told the assembled group of elected officials, including County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, that government’s response was unequal and insufficient. In many areas, grassroots groups like New Florida Majority, Dream Defenfers, FLIC and WeCount were the first people that residents saw in their neighborhoods when the power went out.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was unconvinced, telling the Miami Herald, “Some of the things said today, that we didn’t respond to certain neighborhoods, is outrageous…I’m not swayed by the 50 people who came here. I’m swayed by the 2.7 million people who didn’t come here.” 

He later told a USA Today repoter during a break in Tuesday’s meeting .  “I’ve never heard of these people…So their claim of feeding people, etc., etc., I don’t even know if it’s true. I know the county response was very good. In the street, we get complimented all the time.”

And while Commision Chair Esteban Bovo cut off the mic of NewFM Executive Director Andrea Mercado when he perceived her words as criticism of the Mayor’s efforts, Vice-Chair Audrey Edmonson agreed with alot of the substance that was said.  

“They’re right. They’re absolutely right,” she after the speakers. “We need a better plan for the aftermath.”

See some of the clips below: