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Future Hurricane Prep Could Include Drones, Says Miami-Dade Transportation Director

0423_hurricane_irma_miami_091017.jpeg
Al Diaz
/
Miami Herald
A man attempts to keep his balance in high winds on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami during Hurricane Irma.

Drones and batteries for traffic lights could be part of Miami-Dade’s preparations for future hurricanes, according to county Transportation and Public Works Director Alice Bravo.

Bravo is in the process of debriefing staff members following Hurricane Irma. She said about 80 percent of traffic lights in Miami-Dade lost power during the storm.  

That didn't lead to a noticeable increase in traffic accidents, Bravo said, because debris kept would-be drivers off the roads and because the county deployed generators, temporary stop signs and police officers in response to the outages.

"We had a prioritized approach," she said. Intersections of two-lane roads generally got stop signs; larger intersections received generators and/or police officers, depending on when the county anticipated that  power would be restored.

Bravo said the county also coordinated with Florida Power & Light to prioritize restoration at major intersections.

But she's hoping that before the next storm batteries could be installed to reduce the number of resources required to cope with outages.

"A very large intersection might take four police officers," she said.

Bravo said her staff is also investigating whether it could work with FPL to use drones to assess debris on roads.

"Having a quick, birds-eye view of what the heaviest-hit areas are would help us deploy our resources more effectively," she said.