Florida Division of Emergency Management Celebrates Accomplishments in 2020
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) highlight the state of Florida's response efforts to COVID-19 taken this year, in addition to the Division supporting Floridians recovering from hurricanes while preparing for future storms and other hazards.
Governor Ron DeSantis said, "The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been asked to respond to countless events this year during a record-breaking hurricane season. Not only have they stepped up for every event, but they’ve also continued to break records for hurricane reimbursements. I applaud their dedication and commitment to the state of Florida."
FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz said, “Throughout 2020, the Division has been called upon time and time again, and every time we have delivered. COVID-19 was unprecedented in so many ways, bringing about the largest logistical operation in our state’s history. In response, we have been able to provide Floridians with the PPE, testing, healthcare support and funding that their communities need. While we aren’t slowing down in any way, I’m proud to say that we have saved countless lives in 2020.”
FDEM executed the largest response operation in the Division’s history when responding to COVID-19:
- In March, the State Emergency Operations Center activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and began securing resources, such as PPE and COVID-19 testing materials, to deploy statewide to protect Florida’s most vulnerable populations.
- In March, the Division also opened the first state-supported COVID-19 testing sites in Miami-Dade, Orange and Duval counties. At the peak of the COVID-19 response, the Division operated more than 85 state-supported COVID-19 testing sites statewide that have conducted more than 2.8 million tests to date.
- By setting up these testing sites and ensuring Florida received critical testing supplies, the Division has worked with partners at all levels to create a robust testing infrastructure in Florida. To date, more than 13 million tests have been conducted in Florida.
- In March, the Division began delivering PPE to health care workers and first responders statewide. To date, the Division has delivered:
- More than 78 million masks
- More than 23 million gloves
- More than 6.6 million gowns
- More than 2 million face shields
- More than 1.2 million shoe covers
- More than 112,000 goggles
- Nearly 80,000 coveralls
- The Division led the way in introducing self-swab tests to state-supported COVID-19 testing sites and prioritizing testing for symptomatic individuals, individuals 65 and older and children under the age of 18.
- The Division deployed more than 2,500 nurses to hospitals and clinics throughout the state to supplement health care staffing.
- The Division established biweekly testing for more than 200,000 staff and residents in long-term care facilities – the largest and most complex testing mission in the entire country.
- The Division has actively prepared for a COVID-19 vaccine since July, including purchasing 5 million syringes, 5 million band aids and 5 million alcohol swabs.
- The Division has coordinated the statewide distribution of more than 500,000 doses of the vaccine to date, and nearly 70,000 individuals in Florida have already been vaccinated.
Atlantic Hurricane Season
- The Division coordinated statewide response efforts for several storms during the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, including hurricanes Isaias, Laura, Sally and Zeta.
- The state led the way in developing and implementing non-congregate sheltering ahead of the hurricane season. The Division partnered with local hotels across the state to establish non-congregate sheltering options to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
- Through the Hurricane Sally response, the Division supported the opening of 10 county congregate shelters and six non-congregate hotel shelters, which safely supported more than 300 displaced residents.
- Governor DeSantis proclaimed September 2020 as National Preparedness Month in Florida. Throughout September, the Division provided information on preparedness for Floridians, including a social media campaign.
- The Division launched a Know Your Zone, Know Your Home campaign, including radio and tv ads, to educate Floridians on hurricane safety during COVID-19.
FDEM awarding more than $3.5 billion for disaster recovery under Governor DeSantis’ leadership
- While also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and several hurricanes, the Division continued to prioritize hurricane recovery. By streamlining review and eliminating bureaucratic delay, the Division has officially crossed the $3.5 billion mark in distributed funds since January 8, 2019. These funds include the following programs:
- $2.6 billion of the total $3.5 billion is FEMA Public Assistance funding, which helps counties rebuild quicker after a disaster.
- More than $615 million in CARES Act funding for counties with populations below 500,000.
- More than $276 million for citrus producers impacted by Hurricane Irma, who maintain an active citrus farming operation but suffered citrus crop damage from the storm.
- The Division has also successfully begun distributing funds for the $380 million Timber Recovery Block Grant Program. This grant helps timber producers recover from the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Michael.
Florida Continues to Lead the Way on Disaster Mental Health
- In October 2019, the Division hired Darcy Abbott to be the first Mental Health Disaster Response and Recovery Coordinator in the nation.
- Since coming to the Division, Darcy has deployed to multiple events, including the NAS Pensacola Shooting in January, Hurricane Michael recovery efforts in Bay County, and COVID-19 crisis counseling support.
- At the direction of Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and supported by First Lady Casey DeSantis, Florida’s Mental Health Coordinator, Darcy Abbott, took action to support mental health statewide during COVID-19, including:
- Coordinated with representatives from state agencies, non-profit organizations, treatment providers, health care associations, universities, faith-based organizations and other community partners to engage ongoing coordination and collaboration with mental health, emotional and spiritual care providers to support accurate information, messaging and access to ongoing support during the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Generated and disseminated a directory of available local, state and national crisis counseling helplines, shared resources, training opportunities, identified areas of concern for mental health services, and shared best practices.
- Worked with the DOH to identify resources for free of charge counseling services for health care providers in Florida.
- Collaborated with the Department of Children and Families, Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health on the Covid-19 SAMHSA funded Disaster Crisis Counseling Grant application for Florida.
- Supported weekly conference calls for behavioral health providers and the Florida Behavioral Health Association with the Secretaries of DCF, AHCA and DOH through identifying agenda items and issues faced by these providers as they worked to serve Florida’s communities and maintain standards of care.
- Continuously working with other states, as well as federal, state and local partners to develop and share best practices on responding to mental health impacts of COVID-19.
- In January, the Division secured an additional $690,000 from FEMA to extend the Hurricane Michael crisis counseling services in six impacted counties.
Other notable accomplishments
- The Division worked with St. Johns County to complete a two-year shelter retrofit project that added more than 5,000 additional hurricane shelter spaces. In the last two years, more than 20,000 new shelter spaces have been added in Florida.
- The Division approved more than $70 million in hurricane mitigation funding in 2020.
- The Division’s mitigation bureau worked with more than 200 communities to reduce their risk of flood impacts through the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.
- The Division has established 48 WeatherSTEM real-time weather monitoring units throughout the state as part of a 2019 legislative appropriation.
- WeatherSTEM real-time monitoring units provide critical, on-the ground insights at locations where they are established. This helps the state respond to all forms of weather disasters, including tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and hurricanes.
- The Division implemented 252.351 F.S. – a new statute passed in the 2020 Florida Legislative Session that requires counties to report certain incidents to the state for a quicker response.
- The logistics section finalized the largest logistical resource contract within the history of the Division, with a wide variety of vendors that not only allow for a quicker response time but fair pricing during a disaster. This contract has been integral for the responses this year ranging from COVID-19 to the summer’s tropical cyclones.
- Throughout the year, over multiple activations, the Division has responded to more than 36,000 missions – the most in one year in the Division’s history.
- The Division has increased its warehousing capabilities from one warehouse at 189,000 square feet to five warehouses amounting to 650,000 square feet, while maintaining a fleet of upward of 125 semi-trucks, 300 trailers and 55 box trucks in order to support the rapid response of multiple incidents within Florida.
In March, at the direction of Governor DeSantis, the Division awarded more than $2.2 million to Gadsden County through the Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Program. These funds were used to repair two critical bridges in the county that were damaged by Hurricane Michael, and completed the award of the Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant.