Parks and Rec: Contributing Before the Storm…and After

By Samuel R. Metott, CPRE and NRPA Editors | Posted on September 20, 2017

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The recent natural disasters – from Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria to wildfires, earthquakes, power outages and more – have brought devastation to millions of people. Within every disaster though, bright lights appear. Many of these bright lights are our public service employees – park and recreation employees among them.

NRPA Member Samuel R. Metott, Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation at City of Delray Beach, Florida, wrote the following blog post on LinkedIn prior to Irma hitting the state. His insight provides a great reminder of all the hard work park and recreation professionals do to keep our communities safe, resilient and prepared for before and after the storm.

Before this storm gets here and before we lose any power, I just want to take a minute and thank all the park and recreation employees here in Florida for their hard work this week. It can be stressful staring down a storm like this. We all have friends and families to take care of at home, we see images like Houston again and again on TV, and yet we must come into work and get our cities as ready as they can be for this event.

Our admin staff hustled to get us all the information we might need, make sure payroll ran smooth, and communicate updates to all of our user groups, partners and patrons.

Our Recreation division helped secure buildings, delivered food to our operation centers, cleared the beach, shut down our programming and even set up an employee drop off so the rest of our city staff could do what they needed too.

Preparation: Boarding Up Windows and Doors on Buildings

Our Parks Maintenance division kicked into high gear and started getting all of our parks, buildings, beaches, waterways and awnings prepared for the storm. Additionally, they needed to start staging our resources for post-hurricane recovery efforts.

Staging Resources for Post-Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Did you know that a large number of Parks Maintenance staff sleep inside of the maintenance compound during the storm? Away from their families? They do this so that the instant the storm has passed, we can hit the ground running and start clearing streets to allow Police and Fire to reach the community. While Police and Fire Departments are typically referred to as the first responders (deservedly so), I want to give a big shout out to OUR first responders! They will be out there cutting trees, removing debris and clearing downed power lines to allow the first responders to get where they need to be.

On the backside, we have staff at the golf course stocked and ready to feed our crews. In addition, the rest of our staff is poised to come in after the storm and pick up wherever we need it.



How has your department contributed to disaster relief – currently or in the past? Share with us in the comments.