The major storm snapped trees and power lines across Polk County as well as battered mobile homes, ripped gas station overhangs and flooded some homes and streets. But crews cleared the trees from most of Polk County's roads before sunset Thursday.
First responders are mopping up the remainder of debris, so power crews can restore electricity and home repair specialists can get to work. While it's still a costly mess, this leaves Polk County in much better shape than many may have feared.
"For the duration of this storm and for as much water as it dumped on us, we were more than fortunate. We were blessed," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
That's why some 30 Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies volunteered to go down to Fort Myers to help the Lee County Sheriff's Office, which is helping the community recover from catastrophic damage from Hurricane Ian.
"It’s going to be a tough time emotionally and physically. But you’re going to make a positive difference in people’s lives," Sheriff Judd told his deputies before they left for Fort Myers.
Part of the fleet coming from Polk County includes a mobile command post, communications trailer and a bunk-trailer, where deputies can live and sleep in 12-hour shifts. They are also bringing down swamp buggies and air boats.
The deputies will be dispatched to the heart of the devastation. The team includes a dive team to help with search and recovery, and patrol deputies who will answer service calls in the Fort Myers area.
"We can send the team down to help, and that’s not going to affect out ability to help those who need help here," Sheriff Judd said.