Florida Division of Emergency Management Led Historic Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts in 2022
Florida Division of Emergency Management Led Historic Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts in 2022
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) highlight the State of Florida’s groundbreaking emergency response actions taken this year and the Division’s ongoing disaster recovery efforts to support rebuilding and resiliency in impacted communities.
“Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, the Division executed our fastest emergency responses, cut through red tape and implemented innovative solutions to ease the recovery process for residents and businesses rebuilding from disasters,” said FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie. “I want to thank my staff and the members of the State Emergency Response Team for their tireless efforts this year to serve the people of Florida in their times of need.”
2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Ian – Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28 as a dangerous high-end Category 4 storm in Lee and Charlotte Counties, bringing strong winds, heavy rainfall and significant storm surge before crossing over the state, resulting in widespread impacts. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) approved Governor Ron DeSantis’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Florida as a result of Hurricane Ian on September 29.
- Emergency Services – In coordination with the Logistics Section and the Florida National Guard, Air Operations dropped critical supplies to Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Islands and clocked over 457 flight hours, while also evacuating 42 pets and rescuing others from those inaccessible areas. Law Enforcement, Fire Rescue and Search and Rescue (SAR) operations were supported statewide as they rescued and evacuated over 2,000 residents in impacted areas.
- Infrastructure – Within two days of landfall, over 43,000 utility restoration personnel were responding in Florida, with over 30 states providing support. Thanks to the continuous work of these restoration personnel, over 2 million utility accounts had power within four days of landfall.
- Human Services – The Human Services Branch supported the needs of survivors through the distribution of over 4 million hot meals, over 15 million Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), over 500,000 food boxes and over 2 million cleanup/hygiene kits. Additionally, the Mass Care team assisted with sheltering operations and provided casework support to clients. Volunteers and Donations were coordinated with partners at the State Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and assisted in filling critical gaps during both response and recovery.
- Logistics – Before, during and after landfall, the Division received over 7,300 resource requests to provide state support in impacted areas. Within 48 hours after landfall, 20 county Points of Distribution (PODs) were operational, with another 8 coming online within 72 hours. These PODs were supported by four Type 1 Logistical Staging Areas (LSAs) to deliver food, water, generators, pumps and other sanitation and communications equipment in record time. During Ian and subsequent Hurricane Nicole, the Division distributed over 51 million bottles of water, 14 million meals and 308,000 bags of ice. The Division also operated nine state-supported base camps that supported nearly 6,000 emergency responders addressing the impacts of Hurricane Ian.
Nicole – Hurricane Nicole made landfall on November 10 as a Category 1 storm in Indian River County and traveled up the Peninsula and through the Florida Panhandle before exiting into Georgia. This event brought widespread coastal erosion on the East Coast, resulting in damage or degradation to many structures near the water and causing an estimated $213,652,220 in damages. The response to the impacts of Nicole was made more complex by the ongoing Ian recovery efforts, as responders were still operating in the field and many structures remained vulnerable. Over 8,500 hot meals were served during this event and shelters supported survivors displaced from their homes. Response and recovery efforts continue in the affected areas.
Southwest and Central Florida Tornadoes
- Central Florida Tornadoes – On March 12, a cold front brought multiple severe weather hazards across Northeast and Central Florida including heavy rain, thunderstorms, damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes, resulting in widespread power outages and an estimated $3.7 million in damages. Later that same day, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 22-56, declaring a State of Emergency in the affected counties.
At Governor DeSantis’ request, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) granted a Disaster Declaration for the severe weather event, making low-interest disaster loans available to impacted residents and businesses in Alachua, Citrus, Lake, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Sumter and Volusia counties.
- Southwest Florida Tornadoes – Following the federal government’s denial of Florida’s request for emergency assistance to individuals impacted by the tornadoes that touched down in Charlotte and Lee counties on January 16, the State of Florida launched a donation portal to provide immediate relief for the disaster survivors.
Additionally, SBA did grant a Disaster Declaration at Governor DeSantis’ request, making low-interest disaster loans available to impacted residents and businesses in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.
To date, more than $3 million in disaster relief funding has been provided to residents and businesses impacted by the January Southwest Florida tornadoes through the state’s donation portal and SBA disaster loans.
Northwest Florida Chipola Fire Complex
- On March 8, the State Emergency Operations Center was activated at Level 2 in response to multiple wildfires burning across 15,000 acres that threatened area homes, businesses, and public infrastructure, resulting in mandatory evacuations. Throughout the response, FDEM’s Meteorology Unit coordinated directly with the National Weather Service to provide updates to responding agencies and first responders on the ground.
In response to the Northwest Florida Chipola Fire Complex, FDEM requested and was approved for a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from FEMA. The Division also supported 45 Statewide Mutual Aid Agreements (SMAA) from 43 unique jurisdictions for 250 Fire Rescue support personnel, engine strike teams and brush trucks, to assist with structure protection and fire suppression.
Disaster Recovery Funding
Throughout the state’s response efforts, FDEM continued to prioritize recovery funding for communities impacted by recent disasters. The Division has distributed more than $7.8 billion in critical disaster funding during Governor DeSantis’ first term in office – the most the Division has ever paid out within four years. Disaster recovery funding programs include:
- Public Assistance – The Division distributed more than $695 million in FEMA Public Assistance funding, helping communities rebuild after a disaster. This funding supports local governments recovering from recent disasters, including hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and wildfires.
- Hazard Mitigation Grant Program – The Division approved over $25 million in long-term hazard mitigation projects in areas impacted by disasters to help build more resilient communities.
- Florida Citrus Recovery Block Grant Program – The Division distributed over $10 million to citrus producers who suffered citrus crop damage from Hurricane Irma. This funding can support projects such as irrigation and drainage system repair and grove rehabilitation activities.
- Timber Recovery Block Grant Program – The Division distributed over $30 million to agricultural producers who suffered timber loss as a result of Hurricane Michael. This program is managed by the Division in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the US Department of Agriculture. This funding provides direct payment to landowners to help recover lost income from timber crop that was damaged or destroyed due to Hurricane Michael.
- Hurricane Michael Supplemental LiDAR Project – As a result of the devastating impact of 2018’s Hurricane Michael, the Division supported the U.S. Geological Survey through a joint funding agreement to collect high-quality LiDAR data across the impacted area, at the same specification and to include similar deliverables as the Florida Peninsular LiDAR Project. This project was completed this year, after three years of data acquisition and post-processing covering roughly 8,300 square miles from Jefferson County west to Walton County.
Mutual Aid Efforts
Florida was heavily impacted during the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, prompting the Division to request mutual aid through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) during the Hurricane Ian response. EMAC is a national mutual aid system that allows states to share resources from all disciplines, protect personnel who deploy and be reimbursed for mission-related costs. During Hurricane Ian, 86 EMAC missions were fulfilled by 25 assisting states, bringing in over 2,100 responders to support air operations, law enforcement, search and rescue, fire rescue, emergency management, structural engineering/assessments, incident management teams and many other specialized areas.
The Division also facilitates and supports the intrastate Florida Statewide Mutual Aid Agreement (SMAA), where local agencies deploy within Florida to assist their fellow counties/municipalities during a time of need. In 2022, over 522 SMAA missions were facilitated with 327 unique jurisdictions providing assistance. Resources from across the state and country assisted with Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Law Enforcement, Fire Rescue, All-Hazards Incident Management Teams (AHIMTs), power restoration, public works, structural assessments, continuity of government, recovery specialists and many more.
Due to the significant number of states willing to provide Florida with assistance during our times of need, the Division always stands ready to assist and provide aid to states responding to disasters. FDEM mutual aid efforts to assist other states this year include:
- Kentucky Floods – At the direction of Governor DeSantis, Florida deployed two All-Hazards Incident Management Teams comprised of 20 individuals from FDEM, as well as seven city and county agencies, in support of the response to the July flash flooding in Kentucky.
- Montana Floods – In June, FDEM deployed 12 individuals from the Recovery and Response Bureaus to assist with coordinating resources and conducting Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments. Two staff members served as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Advance Team while the remaining staff served as recovery specialists, assisting with damage assessments, recovery project building and applicant briefings. These team members were able to assist the State of Montana with securing a Major Disaster Declaration that included Public Assistance and Individual Assistance for impacted counties.
In 2022, the Division’s Infrastructure Section surveyed 147 emergency shelters to assess their structural components and confirm their ability to be used as public shelter spaces. These surveys support the annual Shelter Development Report, where 57 facilities were identified for retrofit through grant funding through the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program (HLMP). Additionally, four Fixed Capital Outlay (FCO) Projects appropriated by the Florida Legislature for essential facility hardening were started in 2022.
During 2022, the EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) conducted 36 on-site chemical facility inspections to ensure compliance with state and federal storage and environmental protection laws. From this program, $2,325,207 were collected in fees for re-distribution as grants for first responder hazardous material training and mitigation activities.
The Technological Hazards Section also dispersed the following grants:
- $629,600 from the Local Emergency Planning Council (LEPC) grant to support HazMat training, mitigation, monitoring and technical assistance.
- $221,264 of the Hazard Analysis Grant was used to fund onsite chemical verification site visits and analysis.
- $8.7 million to support Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team general training, exercises and equipment managed through this section.
State Mitigation and Resiliency
The Division’s Mitigation Bureau coordinated with Florida’s Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks to strategize on resiliency methods and potential programs.
The Division approved over $25 million in long-term hazard mitigation projects in areas impacted by disasters to help build more resilient communities and continues to actively work to pass federally obligated funds for previous Major Disaster Declarations, including Hurricanes Sally, Dorian, Michael, Irma, Mathew, Hermine and COVID-19.
Additionally, the Division successfully pushed eleven project sub-applications totaling over $75 million for further consideration by FEMA for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) programs to provide grants to improve resilience and prepare communities for the impacts of storms, flooding and wildfires. The Division is still awaiting a final decision from FEMA.
The Division approved 33 county Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Plans and presented mitigation information at 13 LMS Working Group meetings.
State Preparedness and Training
As a national leader in the field of emergency management, the Division remains committed to conducting, hosting and coordinating training for emergency personnel across the state:
- In 2022, FDEM conducted 544 courses, training approximately 5,679 emergency managers, first responders and nongovernmental personnel.
- The Division conducted the annual 3-day Statewide Hurricane Exercise/Under Siege III Cybersecurity Exercise in April, with participation from 25 State agencies as well as all 67 counties, training approximately 250 personnel.
The Division also paid out over $13 million in the following preparedness grant programs:
- $5.8 million in the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program, ensuring that all 67 counties within the State of Florida have the capabilities to prevent, prepare, protect, respond to and recover from disasters.
- $6.1 million in the Emergency Management Performance and Assistance Program, assisting counties in implementing and administering county emergency management programs including management and administration, training and operations.
- $1.5 million in the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, providing funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations. This grant also promotes emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration activities between public and private community representatives as well as state and local government agencies.