TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The mood at Tallahassee's Walker-Ford Community Center was light during a post-Irma feedback meeting Monday night.
The meeting, hosted by the City of Tallahassee and Leon County, comes just a week after the storm toppled trees and knocked down power lines throughout the Big Bend. Even though our area didn't escape Irma completely unscathed, folks say this storm was a lot easier to weather.
"Last year, we were without power for 10 days," said Tallahassee resident Gladys Ford Caswell. "This year, our power may have been out an hour and a half. No more than two hours."
Faster power restoration and cleanup are just some of the services people say have improved since this time last year.
Leon County's Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters says, although they do some self-evaluation after every major event, city and county leaders rely input from the community to make sure their disaster plan is finely tuned.
"What we think is really effective sometimes doesn't always translate," said Peters. "So to hear how [residents] think about thinks, how they interpret things, how the services really affected them, that's where we get the most value."
Residents say they're also using technology more than ever to stay informed and connected during a storm. Ford Caswell tells WTXL she uses the social networking app Next Door to communicate with her neighbors. It even helped her find damage, like a tree that fell just a few blocks away from her home.
"I didn't know that until I sent a message asking a family that lives there [if] they experienced any problems. Then I reported it through the city," said Ford Caswell.
The biggest takeaway for both residents and local leaders: staying prepared.
"Vigilance. Having our plans and maintaining a supply kit," said Peters. "It's easy to get complacent but we can't let our guard down. We're only halfway through hurricane season."
If you couldn't make it to the first meeting, a second one is scheduled for Thursday, September 21st at Leon County's Eastside Branch Library at 6 p.m. You can also email your comments and feedback to Irma@Talgov.com.