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Mayor Of Naples, Fla., Talks About Hurricane Irma's Threat To The City


Hurricane Irma is shifting its path from south to west Florida, to along the Gulf of Mexico. It's expected to hit landfall in cities that include Naples, Fla. And the mayor of that city, Bill Barnett, joins us. Mr. Mayor, thanks for being with us.

BILL BARNETT: Oh, well, good morning, Scott. And thank you for having me.

SIMON: Well, tell us what things are like there, particularly now that the city is perceived to be at risk.

BARNETT: Well, we, the city of Naples is under a mandatory evacuation. Our people - our citizens really have heeded this, Scott. They took it seriously. And I don't know whether it was Harvey that caused a wakeup call. I can tell you that I was here for Wilma. And the attitude for this impending hurricane, Irma, is totally different. A lot of our people evacuated early this week - we've been - you know, voluntarily. And granted, Naples looks like a ghost town now. But we're just preparing for the worst and kind of praying for the best.

SIMON: How do you prepare for the worst, Mr. Mayor?

BARNETT: Well, the - our first responders, our staff, all the employees - because everybody is an essential employee in a hurricane - we've got 450 employees in the City of Naples. And not only did they - or have we prepared for this hurricane by, A, giving advance warning; B, they have - or we have heavy equipment that is on loan from contractors. We've got our routes and roads in case of flooding that people would be able to use.

Almost everything you can possibly think of, from communications, synchronizing radios, having command centers set up - we have two of them in the city - having staff coming in this evening at 5:00 - you know, we just - there is a list of things that you just don't even think about doing that the city manager and staff has prepared. So - and then for the aftermath, the cleanup, how do we go about doing this? And of course, police and fire are on full alert.

And, you know, I think the biggest concern, of course, is the storm surge and letting people know - Governor Scott was on a little while ago and has been on. And he has done a great job for us, by the way. And he has just said, if you're going to evacuate - and he basically said, you need to be on the road by noon. But, you know, I'm saying, look, you have to have a place to go. There's a little bit of a debate about that. But other than that, you just hunker down, and we'll do our best.

SIMON: Well, good luck to you and to everybody in Naples, Fla. That's Mayor Bill Barnett of Naples, Fla. Thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Mayor.

BARNETT: Thank you so much for having me. Take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.