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Politics

How A Mayor Can Help Turn the Tide During Natural Disasters

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, a storm spanning more than 400 miles and large enough to cover the entire state of Florida, residents have been looking towards local politicians for leadership and advice more than ever before. As on-the-ground, concerned fellow citizens who will be riding out the storm with everyone else, local mayors like Barbara Sharief have worked tirelessly both before and after the storm to ensure that everyone weathers the storm as safely as possible.

Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Preventative measures like setting and enforcing a curfew; and opening up hurricane shelters to the homeless and those without homes able to withstand the predicted wind force, helped to reduce casualties and keep the roads clear. In addition, mayors like Sharief had local Florida Power, and Light (FPL) workers standing by to begin repairs as soon as the storm had passed, negating the possibility of delayed response times becoming an issue. Most importantly, keeping your residents updated on the facts and keeping calm help to assure that residents follow instructions in an orderly fashion.

 

 

And then began the real test: surviving after the storm. Broward County is unique in its use of online features to help residents report damage to their properties, which also helps first responders to more rapidly zero in on devastated areas most in need of help. Known as the Home Damage Assessment Program, Broward County residents can report damage to their homes and any current flooding happening in their area. The site has pictures showing four levels of damage: no damage; major damage, habitable; major damage, uninhabitable; and destroyed. Residents are asked to pick the one that most closely resembles what they’ve experienced.

Mayor Barbara Sharief was also quick to rescind the county curfew, something she received a bit of flack over from other Florida mayors. “Our goal right now is recovery and restoration, and that means that we need to get people back to work, get essential personnel back to work, get relief for the people who worked for the five days through the storm and get the businesses back up and running,” she said. “No curfew right now is necessary.”

 

By rescinding the curfew, Broward County’s FPL workers were able to restore power to over 310,000 residents only 48 hours after Irma’s passing, leaving approximately 500,000 without power. The following Monday that number had been reduced to 13,000 and was shrinking rapidly. By Monday, students were able to return to their classrooms as well.

“We cleared the roads fairly quickly. We cleared all the major highways first and then we cleared all the city roads. So those are cleared rather quickly. The kids are all gone back to school back today. The biggest hurdle we had to get over last week was that the kids had – there was no power to the schools, some of the schools. So we had to wait for the power to be restored in order for the kids to return to school. So they’re back. My kids went off to school this morning so everything’s great there,” said Sharief.

 

We criticize our political leaders all too frequently, and often deservedly. But Florida politicians like Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief represent the very best of those who are elected to serve the public in the common and greater good.

 

Broward Means Business: How Mayor Barbara Sharief Employs Social Media to Better Her Constituency

If you ever want to see how social media can be utilized to promote a region’s economy, bring attention to its cultural centers, and spread the good word, all by a political figure at the local level,  go to Barbara Sharief’s Facebook page.

Barbara Sharief is the Mayor of Broward County and one of the up and comers in the world of Florida politics. What makes her compelling for businesses large and small is her savvy, frequent, and high quality social media presence. Between her Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages, Barbara Sharief highlights not only her career accomplishments, inevitable public appearances, and family gatherings to personalize herself and her identity in the eyes of her constituents, she also provides a great platform to learn about events and happenings in the Greater Broward County area. In the process, the Mayor offers a master class in accessible, fun, and informative postings.

Whereas most political use of social media is either mind-numbingly neutral or highly offensive (both intellectually and morally) (we won’t name names), Mayor Sharief demonstrates the power of social media to communicate ideas and inform people from all walks of life, regardless of identity, financial background or geographic location.

For example, her Facebook page recently offered moving photos of her proclamations for the “Broward Means Business Initiative,” a poignant and highly impactful series of posts that highlight successful local businesses such as ibrow Spa and the Flashback Diner. These and other businesses are featured as well in Barbara Sharief’s excellent Pinterest page, where readers will find posts and photos related to local restaurants, hotels, and beaches.

Getting social media right requires the correct blend of content dedicated to oneself and to others. It requires an understanding of one’s community and target audience. Mayor Barbara Sharief hits home runs on both marks. Her community and her businesses are fortunate.