Miami attorney assists state troopers in Hurricane Ian recovery efforts
When a natural disaster strikes, first responders step into action to assist victims in their local communities. The job they perform is generally treacherous, the hours long, and the task monumental.
Florida Bar member Paul Novack, the former mayor of Surfside and a current member of the Florida Highway Patrol’s statewide advisory council, is acutely aware of the needs of the state’s first responders during natural disasters.
“I’ve been involved with hurricane recovery for many years. I was in Homestead following Hurricane Andrew’s landfall as well as many other storms and floods in between,” Novack said.
As Hurricane Ian rolled ashore in Southwest Florida September 28, Novack began loading his jeep with supplies including food, water, and juices. By September 30, Novack was on the road to Southwest Florida ready to assist those highway patrolmen who were first on the scene.
“The troopers who made their way to assist in the recovery were dispersed throughout the area and there were many short-term gaps. I went over there Friday to help with the distribution of food and supplies,” Novack said.
While Troop F of the Florida Highway Patrol is stationed in Ft. Myers, other troops from across the state came to assist with the clean-up effort including a large contingent from Troop E out of Miami.
As a member of the Florida Highway Patrol’s statewide advisory council, Novak frequently offers input regarding the performance of the patrol and the quality of service they provide to the public. Following a hurricane, however, his role was one of logistical support for the troopers in the field.
Novack’s work as well as the work of the advisory council during recovery was praised by Col. Gene Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol.
“The Florida Highway Patrol Advisory Council is invaluable to the Florida Highway Patrol,” Col. Spaulding said. “Their assistance in providing our troopers with additional resources allows the FHP to continue to provide quality service to the public, especially during natural disasters like Hurricane Ian.”
Upon his arrival, Novack checked in at the patrol’s command center at a Southwest Florida rest area along I-75. The command on the ground reported that supplies are trickling in and the troopers in the area are now getting what they need.
Novack and several troopers then toured heavily hit Ft. Myers Beach where he saw the devastation firsthand.
“The roads were piled high with debris. There’s no power or running water. It will take months and even years for this area to recover,” Novack said.
Novack concluded that when the storm passes, and the recovery effort slows down, we should all be reminded of the very important job the Florida Highway Patrol has conducted through the aftermath.
“The public needs to be aware of the service these troopers provide, and how much they are sacrificing to help those in need. The advisory council’s mission this time was successful and I was glad to assist these brave men and women,” Novack said.