LABELLE, FL. (August 15, 2004) -- The Hendry Sheriffs Office certainly had
its hands full Friday the 13th. In charge of public safety for Hendry
county, LaBelle and 36,000 citizens, the department came through with
flying colors. Although hurricane force winds did not make it to Hendry,
the department acted collectively calm and collected during what could have
been a bomb waiting to explode as anxious and nervous resident and visitors
wondered if the would be a target for Charley's winds.
As Charley approached the area, deputies on the western edge of the county
monitored wind speeds and gusts and radioed the readings to headquarters
while other deputies patrolled the county making sure all was well.
Motorists from other counties seeking refuge were directed to Hendry's
local emergency shelters and in some cases led directly to the shelters by
Other deputies manned the emergency shelters that at the LaBelle Middle
School became over capacity as the afternoon winds increased and Charley
moved closer to Hendry county.
At one point about 50 travelers were at the Pioneer Shell on SR80 asking
for directions to a shelter. A Hendry deputy was dispatched to provide info
to the group and provide an escort to the Clewiston or LaBelle shelter if
needed. Other deputies provided assistance to evacuees at the special needs
shelter in LaBelle. As the middle school shelter saw 300 evacuees, the
Country Oaks shelter was opened and deputies provided assistance there.
As the storm winds abated, deputies were called to miscellaneous reports of
areas with wires down and home damage, and gave assistance to residents
needing information about what to do for repairs.
All in all, a great job by the deputies and administration of the Hendry
Sheriff's office at a time of great stress.