Florida gov requests presidential major disaster declaration
SAN JUAN – Following Hurricane Michael’s landfall near Mexico Beach in Bay County, Fla., at approximately 2 p.m., Gov. Rick Scott formally requested that President Donald Trump issue a Major Disaster Declaration to expedite resources and assistance for impacted communities from the federal government.
President Trump issued a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration Tuesday, which authorized the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance “for required emergency measures, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas.”
On Oct. 7, Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 Florida counties, and expanded it to include 35 total counties on Oct. 8.
The Florida State Emergency Response Team estimated that more than 375,000 Floridians were ordered to evacuate. There were 54 shelters open with a population of nearly 6,700 people, according to a release issued by the governor’s office, which included the following details.
Prior to Michael’s impact, Scott called on local government to confirm their mutual aid agreements between investor-owned utilities, municipals and co-ops so there is no delay in power restoration.
The agreements allow municipal utilities to receive aid from investor-owned utilities and co-ops as they work to restore power to customers. More than 19,000 power restoration personnel were pre-positioned. Some 388,160 people lost power.
The Florida National Guard activated 3,500 soldiers and airmen for pre-landfall coordination and planning, with an emphasis on high water and search and rescue operations. It has four CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the New York and Mississippi National Guards available to augment capabilities.
The National Guard is performing a variety of missions, including staffing 12 shelters, preparing 30 Points of Distribution (PODs), running two Logistics Staging Areas (LSAs) in Tallahassee and Eglin and staffing the State Logistics Readiness Center (SLRC) in Orlando.
The National Guard has more than 1,000 high-water vehicles, 13 helicopters and 16 boats and is preparing for possible missions to include humanitarian assistance, security operations, and search and rescue.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Regional law enforcement coordination teams (RLECTS) are coordinating with urban search and rescue (USAR) teams to get in affected areas as soon as safely possible following the storm.
Roads and bridges in impacted areas were closed. Visit fl511.com for the latest information. To ensure food resources are available, approximately 1.5 million meals ready to eat, about 1 million gallons of water and some 40,000 10-pound bags of ice were prepared to be distributed.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has 19 Ambulance Strike Teams with 90 ambulances to support search and rescue operations, health care facility evacuations, and local EMS augmentation. It issued an emergency order allowing health care professionals with a valid, unrestricted and unencumbered license in any state, territory, and/or district to render services in Florida for 30 days, unless extended.
An online tool for the public to report the location of storm debris in waterways has been deployed. Florida Park Service opened areas to dry camp for self-contained rigs – usually parking lots without utility connections – at some state parks for evacuees on a first come, first served basis with waived overnight fees.
Comcast is opening its network of more than 8,000 Xfinity WiFi hotspots throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee, Panama City, Panama City Beach and surrounding areas and the Dothan, Alabama area, to use for free.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) encourages businesses to visit FloridaDisaster.biz and register, while VISIT Florida activated the Expedia/VISIT Florida Hotel Accommodation Web Portal to support evacuation orders. Visit www.expedia.com/florida to find available hotel rooms.
Airbnb Open Homes is active in Alabama, Florida and Georgia with more than 150 Airbnb community members offering their homes at no cost to evacuees and first responders. Visit www.airbnb.com/HurricaneMichael for open homes.
A team from FEMA including experts from Homeland Security, the EPA, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Army Corps of Engineers is in Florida providing federal assistance.
Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and CFO Jimmy Patronis conducted a conference call with representatives of various insurance companies that have policies in force within the regions forecasted to be impacted by Hurricane Michael to ensure those companies have resources positioned and available to respond to consumers’ needs, assess damage and pay claims quickly and report any challenges or issues as quickly as possible to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR)
Those interested in volunteering can visit www.VolunteerFlorida.org and register on the volunteer database. Volunteer Florida has activated the Florida Disaster Fund, the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities. To donate, visit, www.volunteerflorida.org/donatefdf/.
The Salvation Army is working with state and local emergency management throughout the Florida Panhandle. Its mobile feeding units can serve 500-1,500 meals per day. The Red Cross is bringing in 500 disaster relief workers to shelter and feed at sites in affected counties.
The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) contact number is 1-800-342-3557. Visit http://www.floridadisaster.org/info to find information on shelters and road closures.