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State of Florida Issues Updates on Chipola Complex Response


State of Florida Issues Updates on Chipola Complex Response

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis, Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center to provide an update on the State’s response to the Chipola Complex. Full remarks from the press conference are available here.

FDEM’s Meteorology Unit also continues to coordinate with the National Weather Service and provide updates to responding agencies. Tonight, dense fog is expected in the Panhandle. The fog, combined with the smoke from the ongoing wildfires, may limit visibility. Residents should follow all orders from local officials and be prepared for hazardous driving conditions created by the dense fog.

At this time, the Chipola Complex is burning across approximately 28,000 acres in Bay, Calhoun and Gulf counties. There are currently no reported injuries or fatalities.

State response efforts include:

  • FDEM coordinated the deployment of two mobile cellular units to provide wireless coverage for emergency crews battling the fire.
  • FDEM is supporting the establishment of an additional operating base at the Calhoun County Airport as the Bertha Swamp Fire continues to expand into Calhoun County.
  • DEO activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey to assess the impact of the recent wildfire on businesses in Northwest Florida. Responses to the survey will allow the State to gather data and evaluate the unmet needs of impacted businesses. Businesses can complete the survey at FloridaDisaster.biz.
  • DEO announced the availability of more than $6.1 million in funding and resources to assist income-qualified individuals and families recovering from the impacts of the fires. DEO has also deployed individuals to affected areas to assist homeowners in need.
    • For Community Service Block Grant assistance, Bay County residents may contact the Tri-County Community Action Agency at 302 North Oklahoma Street, Bonifay, FL 32425 or by calling 850-547-3689.
    • For Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Programs assistance, Bay County residents may contact the Bay County Council on Aging at 1116 Frankford Avenue, Panama City, FL 32401 or by calling 850-769-3468.
    • Calhoun and Gulf residents may visit the Capital Area Community Action Agency at 309 Office Plaza Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32301 or by calling 850-222-2043.
  • DCF opened a Family Resource Support Center to assist families impacted by the fires. DCF’s Family Resource Support Center will serve as a central hub for the community to access much needed resources.
  • DCF staff assisted the Convoy of Hope with food distribution to impacted residents.
  • Northwest Florida Health Network has staff available on site who can help address the mental heal needs of the community. Additionally, Floridians can call their hotline at 1-888-95-GetHelp (1-888-954-3843) for 24/7 access to a provider in their community or call the Life Management Center Mobile Crisis Team at 1-888-785-8750.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) issued an Emergency Order waiving and suspending applicable statutes to allow the establishment of alternate size and weight restrictions for divisible loads for any vehicles transporting emergency equipment or supplies in response to the fires.
  • FDOT has assembled and staged Message Boards and Smoke Ahead signs in Bay, Calhoun, and Gulf counties in conjunction with Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) requests. Additional precautionary Smoke Ahead signs have been placed in Bay and Calhoun counties as needed.
  • The local FHP Victim Advocate is assisting with the coordination of donations to provide immediate relief to impacted residents in the community.
  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) deployed 2 Advanced Life Saving capable ambulances to Bear Creek and Broad Branch staging areas.
  • DOH deployed two Regional Emergency Response Advisors (RERA) to Regions 1 and 2. A RERA for Region 3 will be activated tomorrow. RERAs coordinate with local emergency management and the Department on public health and medical matters during an emergency to ensure a common operating picture, vet mission requests, and address any issues.  
  • DOH worked with Walton County Fire Rescue to deploy AmbuBus for Evacuee Transport and Rehab Support in the area.
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement deployed its Mobile Command Vehicle to Calhoun County to support operations.
  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs is working with the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to identify impacted senior clients in the affected area and assist in the coordination of evacuations.
    • Calhoun County reported a few clients have been affected and are working on evacuating plans. The AAA is assisting in contacting friends/relatives to help find an alternative location or assisting them with transport to the local emergency shelter.
  • The Office of Financial Regulation issued a proclamation waiving the branch office notice filing rule for securities professionals.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is closely monitoring all regulated facilities within the identified areas and at this time, none have been impacted.
  • DEP reported that no state lands or state parks have been impacted by the fires.

Previous response state response efforts for the Chipola Complex are available here.

Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2022
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