ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on Tropical Storm Idalia
State Emergency Operations Center Activates to Level One
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor DeSantis was joined by Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Executive Director Kevin Guthrie, Major General John Haas and Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson at the State Emergency Operation Center to provide updates on Tropical Storm Idalia. Governor DeSantis has updated the Emergency Order to include 13 more counties declared in a state of emergency, making the total 46 counties under a state of emergency. Full remarks can be found here.
Upon Governor DeSantis’ request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted a pre-landfall emergency declaration for Tropical Storm Idalia. Additionally, the State Emergency Operations Center has activated to Level One in anticipation of potential impacts from the storm.
Today, Tropical Storm Idalia is predicted to strengthen to a Major Hurricane when it makes landfall early Wednesday by the National Hurricane Center. Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are becoming increasingly likely for portions of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Idalia is located approximately 305 miles southwest of the Dry Tortugas in Florida. Idalia has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and is forecast to strengthen over the next 48 hours as it moves northward into the Gulf of Mexico.
Storm surge watch is in effect along the Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota County border to the Franklin/Wakulla County border and Franklin/Gulf County border.
Storm surge warning is in effect along the Gulf Coast from the Sarasota/Manatee County border to the Franklin/Wakulla County border, including Tampa Bay.
Tropical storm watch is in effect for Brevard, Clay, inland Collier, Duval, Flagler, East Marion, Nassau, Seminole, St. Johns, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, and Volusia counties, as well as the Lower Keys.
Tropical storm warning is in effect for Charlotte, DeSoto, Franklin, Hardee, inland Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Polk, Sarasota, and Wakulla counties, as well as the Dry Tortugas.
Hurricane watch is in effect for Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Hamilton, western Marion, Suwannee, and Union counties.
Hurricane warning is in effect for Citrus, Dixie, coastal Franklin, Hernando, Hillsborough, coastal Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Taylor, and coastal Wakulla counties.
Floridians are encouraged to monitor weather conditions and listen to all orders from local officials, as well as have emergency contact lists updated and important documents backed up and stored in a waterproof protective container.
State Preparedness Efforts
- FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Tropical Storm Idalia response.
- FDEM is mobilizing requested resources to support residents and first responders in the path of the storm, including more than 25 pallets of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), more than 180 pallets of bottled water, and more than 10 pallets of tarps.
- The Florida National Guard has been fully activated, with a mobilization of 2,500 guardsmen within the next 24-48 hours for preparedness and response efforts. An additional 3,000 guardsmen are being activated today.
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has activated the State Emergency Operations Center Team to support ongoing operations. FDLE has prepared:
- One mobile command vehicle;
- One operations command center; and
- Two mobile staging units.
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has readied high-water vehicles and all other storm response resources statewide so they may be rapidly deployed to assist Floridians in need in the event of damage or flooding. Contingency plans based on forecasted landfall locations have been developed and are flexible based on the storm’s projected path.
- FWC Officers will respond with a variety of specialized equipment as necessary, including:
- Shallow draft boats;
- Larger platform vessels;
- Airboats; and
- Four-wheel drive vehicles.
These assets are in addition to local FWC officers deployed to potentially affected areas.
- FWC Special Operations Group (SOG) teams will serve as reconnaissance units for the State EOC and report back on damage after the storm has made landfall.
- FWC Aviation Section has been placed on standby and has readied all appropriate aircraft for potential deployment for EOC aerial assistance, reconnaissance, and post-storm damage assessments when needed.
- The Florida Highway Patrol has 300 troopers ready to deploy and is prepared to implement 12-hour Alpha, Bravo shifts in preparation for Tropical Storm Idalia.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has completed pre-storm beach surveys in all shoreline counties.
- All significant hazardous waste facilities in potentially affected counties are being contacted to ensure all pre-storm preparations are being made.
- The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) All Correctional Institutions have back-up power generators in the event commercial power is lost.
Health and Human Services
- The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is prepared to request early release of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits depending on the severity of the storm.
- DCF’s Mass Care unit is working with the American Red Cross and feeding partners to assess shelter needs and get updated inventory information for food on hand for distribution.
- DCF is assessing the need for utilization of the crisis counseling program and deployment of crisis counseling teams to support area resiliency.
- The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics stands ready to coordinate with wholesale distributors of prescription drugs and medical gas to ensure an uninterrupted supply for potential impacted residents.
- The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has distributed a statewide reminder regarding special needs shelter registration.
- DOH has staged 14 strike teams, totaling 70 ambulances, for any facility evacuations or patient transport needs. Staging is currently in Marianna and Orlando. DOH is arranging a substantial amount of additional EMS resources to be staged in various areas across Florida.
- DOH is working with local emergency management to prepare special needs shelter staffing.
- The DOH and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) sent information regarding early prescription refills permitted under Executive Order 23-171. This information was sent to the public, health insurers, managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacy chains, and health care providers.
- DOH has contacted Medical Foster Care (MFC) families to enact emergency plans, prepare supplies, and fill any prescriptions. DOH staff will remain in contact with individual MFC families to ensure services and needs are met.
- The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has finalized a report utilizing newly developed GIS software that includes information from residential providers and hospitals in counties under the State of Emergency.
- AHCA opened an event in the Health Facility Reporting System ahead of any potential impacts. All Residential/Inpatient Health Care Providers in counties under a state of emergency must submit updates on census, bed availability, evacuation and receiving status, power outages and generator status by 10AM daily & when a situation changes.
- AHCA has contacted the Medicaid Managed Care Plans, to ensure they are taking the necessary preparations for the storm, including allowing for early prescription refills. Fee-for-service recipients are also eligible for early refills.
- The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), based on the Governor’s Executive Order, has mapped out the locations and current census of APD clients and residents located in potentially affected areas.
- WaterTracker is active, DEP’s online portal for drinking and wastewater facilities to report their operational status.
Infrastructure, Roads and State Closures
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) continues to complete assessments of the fuel supplies as locations reported by CITGO to determine the severity of contaminated fuel within on-site tanks. Based on these assessments, FDACS will determine the types of fuel that is contaminated and issue subsequent communications.
- FDACS has opened up the consumer hotline to receive complaints from impacted consumers. If you believe you were sold contaminated gasoline, you can file a complaint by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA or visiting fdacs.gov.
- Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has 500 team members readying over 200 pieces of equipment and vehicles in case of the need for pre-staging and immediate deployment.
- The Howard Frankland Bridge project in Tampa is securing barges in the area. All other active construction projects are on alert and standing ready to implement any necessary actions related to storm preparations.
- Port Panama City, Port Tampa Bay, Seaport Manatee, Port St. Joe, and Port of St. Petersburg have begun securing port infrastructure and clearing waterways as they prepare for the approaching storm.
- FDOT crews are actively sweeping roadway shoulders, preparing signage, and opening the maximum amount of lanes possible within construction zones in preparation for the potential implementation of Emergency Shoulder Use (ESU) in case of evacuations.
- FDOT is in close communication with transportation partners across the state, including airports, seaports, rail lines and transit agencies, as they are on watch and making any necessary preparations.
- Florida’s 511 Traveler Information System is available for drivers to stay informed about roadway conditions during emergencies. This service is monitored and updated 24/7 by FDOT and includes traffic conditions, road and bridge closures, and other specialized alerts. To use Florida’s 511, visit the website at FL511.com or download the app—on both Apple and Android devices.
- FDOT reminds motorists to always drive safely. Remember to avoid distractions and slow down during inclement weather.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has published a storm updates webpage to keep state park visitors updated of closures: org/StormUpdates. Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at closed parks have been notified of their reservation status.
- The Florida Department of Education is consistently updating their website with school district closures, as well as State University System and Florida College System Closures.
- Citrus County Schools will have a half day schedule Monday, August 28, 2023 and will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Charlotte County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Columbia County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- DeSoto County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Dixie County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Duval County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 through Thursday, August 31, 2023.
- Gilchrist County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Hamilton County Schools will be closed Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Hardee County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Hernando County Schools will be closed Monday, August 28, 2023 through Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Hillsborough County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Jefferson County Schools will have an early release day Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and remain closed on Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Lee County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023
- Levy County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Madison County Schools will have a half day schedule Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and remain closed through Thursday, August 31, 2023.
- Manatee County Schools will be closing the following schools at noon on Monday, August 28, 2023: Nolan Middle, Freedom Elementary, Miller Elementary and Mills Elementary.
- Marion County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Pasco County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Pinellas County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Sarasota County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Suwannee County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
- Taylor County Schools will be closed Tuesday, August 29, 2023 and Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
Resources for Employees and Businesses
- FloridaCommerce has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Inquiries may also be emailed to ESF18@em.myflorida.com.
- FloridaCommerce has alerted the statewide Community Action Agency (CAA) Network and Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) to initiate disaster preparedness activities. LWDBs and CAAs have been advised to submit their anticipated cash needs to ensure critical services to Floridians are not disrupted.
- FloridaCommerce is hosting a daily private sector coordination calls beginning Monday, August 28, 2023. Briefings will be provided by SERT meteorology, fuels, communications, transportation, and energy, as well as private sector partners such as the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and VISIT FLORIDA.
- FloridaCommerce is in contact with local ESF 18 representatives in the anticipated impacted areas to support economic resiliency in their communities.
- FloridaCommerce partners, including Walmart, Publix, Avis, Waze and L3 Harris have indicated that they are monitoring and preparing their employees for potential impacts. Wells Fargo is supporting to ensure banking services remain available to Floridians.
- The DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants is coordinating and preparing emergency response teams in all seven district offices statewide for a post-storm rapid response to assist lodging establishments and restaurants in reopening as necessary.
- DBPR encourages Florida’s licensed contractors who are looking to help property owners in need of post-storm construction-related services to register with the Florida Disaster Contractors Network at dcnonline.org. DBPR is a founding partner in the Disaster Contractors Network, a contractor-verified clearinghouse to connect individuals with building professionals to address storm-related construction and repairs, and minimize fraudulent construction schemes seeking to take advantage of vulnerable Floridians after a storm.
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has FLHSMV has issued Emergency Order 082623, which:
- waives specific requirements for commercial motor vehicles providing emergency relief; and
- waives the replacement fees for driver’s license and identification credentials, vehicle registrations and titles, vessel registrations and titles and temporary parking permits for impacted individuals.
- Following the issuance of the Governor’s Executive Order, DEP has issued an Emergency Final Order waiving permitting requirements for the storage and processing of solid waste, including hurricane debris.
- DEP’s Emergency Final Order also removes barriers for expediting necessary repair, replacement and restoration of structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works and other systems that may be damaged by the storm.
- FDOT issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow expanded weight and size requirements for vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, and supplies.