Thursday, November 15, 2018

Florida governor flies to Puerto Rico on Monday

By on February 2, 2018

SAN JUAN – Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that he will travel to Puerto Rico on Monday to continue to “offer guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.”

Scott will be meeting with emergency management officials and visiting with utility linemen from Florida, who are working on repairing the island electric grid, to thank them for their continued efforts.

In the published announcement, the governor’s office said additional details on the trip will be announced in the coming days.

“In Florida, we have made it a top priority to make sure that every family displaced by Hurricane Maria is welcomed in our state. I have frequently spoken with [Puerto Rico] Governor [Ricardo] Rosselló as their challenging recovery process continues. I am proud of the work Florida has done to help families from Puerto Rico who have arrived in Florida, and we will continue to do all we can to make sure they have the resources needed to get back on their feet,” Scott said in the written statement.

“Our top priority is to ensure that federal, state and local partners continue to work together to ensure a full recovery for Puerto Rico. I look forward to meeting with Puerto Rican officials and Florida utility crews next week,” he added.

Puerto Rico governor calls for diaspora political action in Florida

The following is an portion of the governor’s release with “information on what the State of Florida is doing to support Puerto Rico”:

DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • At the direction of Governor Scott, two Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC) have opened in Orlando (formerly at Orlando International Airport) and Miami International Airport for Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria.
  • The following organizations will have staff on site: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Children and Families, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Health, Department of Economic Opportunity, American Red Cross and Catholic Charities (Orlando International Airport).
  • These partners will offer services such as help with registering for FEMA Individual Assistance, crisis counseling, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) information, assistance with unaccompanied minors and agency social services, assistance with animal services, medical attention and health concerns, employment information and training services, food and water resources, language guidance and spiritual care.
  • The hours of operation for the Orlando MARC are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hours of operation for the center in Miami are 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.
  • The Orlando MARC is located at 6490 Hazeltine National Drive, Suite 170, Orlando, FL 32822.
  • Since October 3rd, 2017, more than 367,000 individuals have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico through Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Port Everglades.
  • More than 37,000 individuals have visited the Multi-Agency Resource Centers in Orlando (formerly at Orlando International Airport) and Miami International Airport.
  • FEMA is onsite providing information on available resources for people arriving from Puerto Rico.
  • DEM is working with our Federal and local partners to explore and consider all available solutions with regards to housing Hurricane Maria survivors.
  • The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is working closely with Puerto Rican officials to help identify, prioritize and affect Emergency Management Assistance Compact missions, allowing for the right resources and personnel from the continental U.S. to be appropriately leveraged in support of the response effort.
  • SERT has coordinated with private partners to secure three large transport vessels that have a combined passenger capacity of more than 7,500 individuals.
  • SERT is working with private cellular infrastructure repair and support companies to assist the Puerto Rico response effort and deploy personnel, repair equipment, trucks and fuel needed for critical communications infrastructure repairs.
  • SERT is identifying relief supplies for deployment. More than 2 million pounds of relief supplies are positioned in the Tampa Bay area for two large cargo aircraft transporting them to airports outside of San Juan. In addition, four hangars across the Tampa and Orlando areas are full of relief supplies are on standby for air transport.
  • Available relief supplies include 220 Florida Point of Distribution (POD) support packages which are used for the distribution of water, food, and supplies to the public, 50 6,000-gallon potable water tankers, 300 fork lifts, 10 kitchen support units, 10 shower/laundry facilities, 1,000 light towers, and 1,200 portable generators standing by for transport to Puerto Rico as needed. In addition, Lowe’s is currently transporting 30 trailers worth of portable generators to Homestead for transport to Puerto Rico.
  • SERT is working with utility partners at the State Emergency Operations Center to identify resources that may be offered to Puerto Rico. This includes personnel, repair equipment and expertise. Additionally, FPL has offered assessment teams that can quickly deploy and assist in determining critical infrastructure needs.
  • SERT is working with fuel industry partners to secure ships transporting fuel, fuel trucks and bilingual drivers to transport fuel to areas with the most critical need. Two fuel barges are on standby for deployment.
  • SERT, through the Florida Retail Federation, is coordinating with Florida’s major retailers in ensuring the availability and distribution of needed goods.
  • SERT coordinated with the Humane Society of the United States to support pet and animal shelters in San Juan.
  • Hurricane Irma and Maria survivors can find more information by contacting FEMA Disaster Assistance at 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov. They can also contact the State Assistance Information Line at 1-800-342-3557 or visit
  • http://www.floridadisaster.org/info/maria.htm.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has deployed Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) Mobile to an offsite relief center outside of the Orlando International Airport to provide credentialing services to impacted customers. In Orlando, one FLOW unit two days a week will be at this location. So far, DHSMV FLOWs have served nearly 11,000 customers seeking driver license, ID or motor vehicle services.
  • Obtaining a Florida credential (DL or ID) will invalidate any previously-issued credential.
  • Customers who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria are not required to obtain a Florida driver license or ID.
  • Customers with all proper documentation who are displaced by Hurricane Maria and are in temporary lodging or share housing of another person due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason may obtain a Florida ID at no cost.
  • A non-Florida resident may continue to drive in Florida using their valid driver license.
  • An evacuee who is in possession of a valid Puerto Rican driver license, may obtain a 180-day temporary driving permit at no cost and retain their valid Puerto Rican driver license. Temporary permits will automatically expire following the 180 days.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has identified volunteers from across the state that are part of the FWC Special Operations Group (SOG) to stand by for potential deployment. Many of these officers have recently deployed to assist with Hurricanes Harvey and Hurricane Irma response and recovery operations.

HEALTH AND MEDICAL

  • The state is currently on the list of Federal Coordinating Centers (FCCs) to accept patients if needed from Puerto Rico as recovery efforts continue. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) will stand ready to coordinate patient transport as needed.
  • DOH is supporting evacuees with gaining access to public health and medical programs including immunizations, prescriptions, WIC, and other programs.
  • DOH is providing education and outreach in Miami and Orlando for Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria. DOH is supporting activities at the other locations, including Tampa.
  • The State Regulatory Boards of MedicineOsteopathic Medicine and Nursing have published information regarding expedited licensure online.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration will work with our federal partners to gather information on any waivers the Medicaid program would need to serve individuals from Puerto Rico. As always, the Medicaid program covers medically necessary services for children and families eligible for Medicaid.
  • Florida Department of Children and Families staff are on site at the Multi-Agency Resource Centers and are actively working to help Puerto Rican families identify what public assistance benefits are available, including Medicaid eligibility. These staff are also providing instructional handouts on how to apply for these benefits.
  • The Agency for Persons with Disabilities employees are working with the Multi-Agency Resource Centers to assist individuals with developmental disabilities from Puerto Rico. APD is meeting with families in need to discuss potential services while in Florida.

TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC WORKS

  • FDOT continues to hold regular weekly conference calls with counterparts in Puerto Rico, to provide technical assistance and exchange technical documents.
  • Based on assessment of need, FDOT team will provide technical exchange on sustainable Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) systems for Puerto Rico.
  • Weekly conference calls will continue on the technical review through January.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA

  • FEMA has set up a warehouse in Jacksonville for donations to Puerto Rico. The Seventh Day Adventists are conducting warehouse operations. Volunteer Florida’s AmeriCorps members have received training in warehouse operations to support warehouse efforts in Jacksonville.
  • American Red Cross is assisting in Puerto Rico with family reunification and helping evacuees in Florida with medications, medical equipment, health supplies, generators to special needs clients and water filters. ARC is also providing food, snacks, spiritual care, and staffing to shelters.
  • The Salvation Army has sent to 10 semi-trailers of food and water to Puerto Rico with an additional 150 pallets staged to be sent. The Salvation Army is also assisting with clothing vouchers and toys for displaced families.
  • The United Methodist Church – Holston Conference – collected nearly 1,300 school kits and more than 1,000 hygiene kits from the 12 districts in their conference.  They delivered them to First Kissimmee UMC – where they were distributed to children who are just entering Florida schools.  School kits included – scissors, pencils, paper, a hand-held pencil sharpener, a ruler, large eraser and a box of 24-count crayons.
  • Presbyterian Disaster Response – Have collected donations from several churches for Hurricane Maria. Donations include hygiene kits, and items for children such as small toys, coloring books, blankets, etc.
  • Volunteer Florida is working with members of the Florida VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to deploy volunteers to Puerto Rico to assist with amateur radio; cell phones, regular phones, the internet and other systems are down or overloaded; amateur radio assist getting important messages through.
  • Volunteer Florida is providing information and resources to Floridians who want to make donations or volunteer at www.volunteerflorida.org.
  • Volunteer Florida is coordinating with Multi-Agency Resource Centers in Orlando and Miami to serve displaced families from Puerto Rico.
  • Organizations and services at the Orlando Multi-Agency Resource Center include:
    • American Red Cross is registering families and providing snacks and water. They are also funding a one-time filling of drug prescriptions.
    • The United Way – providing registration for food assistance, housing assistance, medical needs and referrals to case management for extended needs
    • Latino Leadership, Inc. – providing registration for employment solutions, food banks, and clothing banks
    • Catholic Charities – managing referrals for schooling, medical, health clinics, food pantries, ESL services, and financial assistance. They are also providing housing and transportation assistance.
    • The Salvation Army – providing care along with hygiene kits and snacks and baby supplies; it is also providing comfort packages, shelf food packages (3 meals in one box), refreshments and clothing vouchers
    • Shepard’s Hope – providing assistance with health insurance and medical needs
    • Second Harvest Food Bank – providing food kits for distribution and assisting with SNAP applications.
    • Florida Legal Services – Assisting evacuees with legal needs
    • Goodwill – assisting with local job search, access to computer, phone, copiers and providing English classes
    • United Way providing Uber vouchers
    • United Way of Central Florida is providing transportation assistance
    • Second Harvest is providing food vouchers
    • Salvation Army is providing clothing vouchers
    • Harvest Time International – located just outside Orlando – has a food bank and is providing groceries at a discounted fee and accepting SNAP benefits
  • Organizations and services at the Miami Multi-Agency Resource Center include:
    • The United Way of Miami-Dade – coordinating services for displaced families
    • Red Cross – providing family Reunification and is staffing the comfort station, providing water, snacks, comfort kits and sheltering if needed.
    • Salvation Army – providing emotional and spiritual care along with hygiene kits and snacks and baby supplies, and limited housing
    • Banyan – providing health services, family counseling, and crisis counseling
    • Catholic Charities – providing assistance in accessing food, FEMA referrals, and assistance in accessing shelters, and financial assistance, and coordinating services for displaced families
    • Church World Services – assisting with overnight/short-term housing as available
    • Salvation Army – providing bus passes to individuals through the MARC
    • Starbucks had been accepting emergency supplies for Puerto Rico evacuees to be distributed by the Salvation Army

BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT

  • The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the local CareerSource boards have deployed staff to meet evacuees at the Multi-Agency Resource Assistance Centers (MARCs) opened in Miami and Orlando. Staff are on-site to provide information about resources available to assist them in Florida. Assistance has been provided to more than 4,462 individuals.
  • DEO has received a grant award of $13 million for federal Dislocated Worker Grants from the U.S. Department of Labor for families impacted by Hurricane Maria who are now in Florida. Funds will be disbursed to the local workforce development boards to provide these individuals with career services, training and temporary jobs. The funding will be allocated based on the boards’ needs and the population of Puerto Rican families being served.
  • On December 11, 2017, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Secretary Jonathan Zachem issued an Emergency Order continuing the suspension of all fees required for occupational-license applications for residents of Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria. To view the Emergency Order, click HERE.
  • Following Governor Scott’s Hurricane Maria Executive Order, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has received 110 fee-waiver applications for residents of Puerto Rico relocating to Florida.
  • DEO has approved the release of Disaster Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to provide emergency services such as rent, utilities, food and transportation to disaster survivals including Puerto Rico evacuees. The CSBG Program is administered locally by Community Action Agencies (CAAs).
  • CareerSource Centers are providing reemployment and job placement assistance to Puerto Rico evacuees.
  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and VISIT FLORIDA are working with the SERT to identify lodging resources to support Puerto Rico evacuees housing needs in Florida.

EDUCATION

  • Florida school districts have processes in place to enroll K-12 students displaced by natural disasters, and all districts are prepared to enroll Puerto Rican evacuees. Families displaced by Hurricane Maria have begun arriving in Florida, and a number have already enrolled their students.
  • Florida school districts have enrolled more than 12,300 displaced students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • On December 29, 2017, DOE issued a memo to school district superintendents confirming graduation requirements for displaced Puerto Rican high school juniors and seniors to earn a Puerto Rico high school diploma while enrolled in a Florida school, if they choose. To view the memo, CLICK HERE.
  • On November 17, 2017, Commissioner Stewart sent a letter to Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher in response to requested assistance related to students who have come to Florida from Puerto Rico as juniors and seniors in high school. To view the letter CLICK HERE.
  • On November 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education announced they plan to award $2 million in SERV grants to the Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Departments of Education.
  • DOE issued a memo to district superintendents regarding an accountability exception for students who qualify as English Language Learners (ELLs) recently arriving from outside the 50 states or the District of Columbia. These students will not be included in the achievement components for the 2017-18 school grades and the school grades calculation will not include these students in the learning gains. To view the memo, CLICK HERE.
  • The Commissioner has reauthorized the following waivers remain in effect as long as the underlying Executive Order (17-304) is in effect:
  • At Governor Scott’s direction, the Office of Early Learning (OEL) has temporarily waived rules and regulations that will allow Florida’s 30 early learning coalitions to enroll Puerto Rican children whose education records are unavailable due to the storm. This will make it easier for young children to continue their early learning education through Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) and School Readiness Programs. To view the order, click HERE.
  • At Governor Scott’s direction, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has temporarily waived rules and regulations that will allow Florida public school districts to enroll Puerto Rican students whose education records are unavailable due to the storm. The Governor also directed DOE to waive the educator certificate application fee and other requirements to help Puerto Rican educators displaced by the storm more easily continue their teaching careers in Florida. Upon receiving a request from a district superintendent, DOE will waive the application fee for an initial educator certificate and will allow the acceptance of an unofficial transcript of teaching degrees or copies of a valid teaching certificate issued by another state or U.S. territory. To view the order, click HERE.
  • At the direction of Governor Scott, Commissioner Stewart also signed a supplemental order authorizing state colleges to waive existing rules and other requirements to help Puerto Rican students more quickly enroll in college. At the request of Governor Scott, all 28 Florida College System institutions have agreed to offer in-state tuition to Puerto Rican students who were impacted by Hurricane Maria. To view the order, click HERE.
  • DOE has waived statutory and rule requirements related to residency and student records at Florida’s 48 technical centers. Additionally, all technical centers are offering displaced Puerto Rican students in-state tuition. To view the final order, click HERE.
  • Commissioner Stewart issued a summary of guidance to all districts and will continue to work with school districts on additional issues as they arise.
  • Florida Virtual School will accept 20,000 Puerto Rican students who were displaced by Hurricane Maria to ensure they are able to continue their education. To sign up, contact Liz Chico at (863) 606-8033.
  • The Florida Department of Education is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Education to help them immediately take advantage of Florida Virtual School’s (FLVS) platform and curriculum once internet access is reinstated in Puerto Rico. This will enable Puerto Rican students and educators to continue essential education operations.
  • The below Florida state colleges and universities are waiving out-of-state tuition and fees for students from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria following a request by Governor Scott:
    • Broward College
    • Chipola College
    • College of Central Florida
    • Daytona State
    • Eastern Florida State College
    • Florida A&M University
    • Florida Atlantic University
    • Florida Gateway
    • Florida Gulf Coast University
    • Florida International University
    • Florida Keys Community College
    • Florida Polytechnic University
    • Florida Southwestern State College
    • Florida State College at Jacksonville
    • Florida State University
    • Gulf Coast State College
    • Hillsborough Community College
    • Indian River State College
    • Lake Sumter
    • Miami Dade College
    • New College of Florida
    • North Florida Community College
    • Northwest Florida State College
    • Palm Beach State
    • Pasco-Hernando State College
    • Pensacola State College
    • Polk State College
    • Santa Fe College
    • Seminole State
    • South Florida State College
    • Johns River State College
    • Petersburg College
    • State College of Florida, Manatee–Sarasota
    • Tallahassee Community College
    • University of Central Florida
    • University of Florida
    • University of North Florida
    • University of South Florida
    • University of West Florida
    • Valencia College

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