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With Gratitude  

The past two weeks have been one of the most challenging incidents the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office – and the county – have faced in years.  The possibility of a Category 5 Hurricane barreling down upon the entire state of Florida…. A storm more than 300 miles wide (twice the width of our state) with winds upwards of 165 mph.  Although we had widespread power outages, wind damage and other inconveniences, by the grace of God, we were spared much of the storm’s wrath, while our neighbors to the south suffered immense damages and loss.  As in any situation, we can reflect afterwards, review lessons learned and best practices, which we’ve already begun to do here at the agency.  However, what I must emphasize today is the immense pride and gratitude I have for how our community responded, our agency responded, how the county responded and how our community partners responded.

My sincerest thanks go out to you who heeded our warnings of danger and took the appropriate actions to protect life and property.  It is very easy to become complacent when you live in the “hurricane state” and I truly believe that our Citrus County folks did exactly the opposite.  You evacuated, you sheltered if necessary, you did precisely as your emergency management personnel asked.  To those who worked at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during our emergency activation, including every single emergency support function, YOU ensured our residents were taken care of during this storm.  From the health department to the school board, public works to PIOs, from energy companies to CERT members, from communications officers to finance personnel, and to those who manned our Citizens Information Lines – your performance in the face of great danger was beyond reproach and exceeded my expectations.  To every single person who reported to the EOC, thank you for putting your community first all while having to worry about your loved ones at home.

How can I possibly thank our first responders – those who faithfully reported for duty from law enforcement, fire rescue and EMS in the face of potentially grave danger?  You took the oath to serve and you fulfilled that oath for days on end.  You did not waiver and you served us well. Our community partners made super human efforts to restore power, assist with the evacuations of assisted living facilities and Seven Rivers Regional Medial Center and get stores open as quickly as possible after the storm passed.  Although I know that many of you are still without power, I can’t tell you how hard our energy companies have been working to get your power restored.  Please continue to be patient as each day is getting better and better.

Our County Commissioners, City Managers and County Administrator worked very closely with us throughout this entire ordeal and we will continue to work together during the process of recovery – including details on FEMA reimbursements.  We still have 75 days left in Hurricane Season.  If by some reason, you do not have 72 hours of supplies in your home, please make sure that you spend some time to accomplish this absolute necessity. And finally, to Capt. David DeCarlo and your entire emergency management staff – your tireless service to your community did not go unnoticed.  You are definitely who we need at the helm before disaster strikes.

Yours in Service,

Mike Prendergast, Sheriff

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