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ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on Hurricane Idalia


ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on Hurricane Idalia

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This morning, Governor DeSantis provided updates on the ongoing response to Hurricane Idalia at the State Emergency Operations Center. He was joined by Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Executive Director Kevin Guthrie, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Major General John D. Haas. Full remarks can be found here. Governor DeSantis’ Emergency Order can be found here.

Today, Governor DeSantis announced that President Biden has approved Florida’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Hurricane Idalia, allowing for the reimbursement of debris removal and authorizing individual assistance for those impacted by the storm in seven counties: Citrus, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee, and Taylor. Governor DeSantis originally requested the Major Disaster Declaration for 25 counties and additional counties may be approved in the coming days after the completion of ongoing damage assessments.

At the direction of Governor DeSantis, immediate response efforts including search and rescue, power restoration efforts and debris removal have been underway since Hurricane Idalia’s landfall. Florida Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces 1 and 2 have deployed to Dixie County to support ongoing operations; USAR Task Force 6 is on Hernando Beach addressing water rescue needs; USAR Task Force 8 is joined by a Pennsylvania USAR team in Taylor County; and additional USAR teams from Texas and Missouri are also on the ground providing support.

The Florida Disaster Fund, announced by Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, is currently accepting donations to support communities impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Since activating, the fund has raised more than $2.5 million to support impacted Floridians. To donate, click here.

Power restoration efforts have been underway for counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia. There are over 425,000 accounts impacted by Hurricane Idalia that have been restored. There are 135,196 accounts remaining without power that linemen are currently in the field working to restore.

Yesterday, eight Urban Search and Rescue Teams, the National Guard, the US Coast Guard, FWC and the Florida State Guard began search and rescue efforts and as of this morning, they had participated in least 38 rescues. Florida National Guard has made 29 rescues of individuals and pets, in addition to nine Coast Guard rescues. Florida’s FWC officers assisted with one medical evacuation yesterday and are conducting high water and welfare checks. The Florida State Guard began completing damage assessments in Taylor County yesterday.

State Response Efforts

  • FDEM has begun shipping requested resources to support residents and first responders including more than 200,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), over 1.2 million bottles of water, and more than 900 tarps.
  • Just two months after the first graduation of Florida State Guard soldiers in 75 years, they've been called up to support Florida's Hurricane Response and are on the ground in Taylor County.
  • The Florida National Guard (FLNG) has been fully activated, with a mobilization of 5,300 guardsmen positioned across the state for response efforts. Mobilized units are postured to support humanitarian assistance, route clearance, traffic control, aviation, and security missions throughout impacted areas. 
  • The FLNG has been conducting search-and-rescue and route clearance operations and is prepared to begin commodity distribution missions. 
  • The Florida National Guard also has units supporting the State Logistics Response Center (SLRC) and County Emergency Operation Centers (EOC). 
  • The Florida National Guard's Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (REDHORSE) is a highly trained unit in heavy construction that is uniquely mobile and also able to quickly move debris and clear vital routes for our responders. They have worked tirelessly to clear routes for our own teams to conduct door to door wellness checks for our fellow Floridians.
  • The FLNG 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team has deployed forward into western and northwestern Florida.
  • The Florida National Guard currently has:
    • 2400 vehicles to include high mobility and high-water vehicles, 
    • 14 FLARNG helicopters strategically placed around the state and that number could double with assistance from neighboring states,
    • 23 small watercrafts ready to support search and rescue, and reconnaissance missions.
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) mutual aid team is coordinating Florida’s law enforcement response with 70 active missions including deployment around 500 of Florida law enforcement officers.
  • Nearly 80 FDLE agents from Miami, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Pensacola are deployed into the impacted area and an FDLE drone operator is working with Urban Search and Rescue Teams.
  • FDLE has deployed the following equipment:
    • One command center
    • One mobile command center
    • Six mobile staging units
    • Three large trailers
    • Four box trailers
    • Two cargo trucks
    • One forklift
    • 24 generators
    • 30 Chainsaws.
  • FDLE’s mutual aid team established law enforcement regional command posts in Taylor County, Cross City and Madison with fuel for first responders.
  • Regional law enforcement coordination teams (RLECTs) are activated in impacted regions and assisting local law enforcement agencies with needs as they arise.  
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) The FWC is working closely with state and local emergency management agencies to deploy resources to impacted areas. FWC officers are reporting significant wind damage, storm surge effects and widespread power outages across the Big Bend coastal region extending well inland.
  • FWC has Two rapid response teams that have a total of 47 officers and support personnel and the following equipment:
    • 47 four-wheel drive vehicles
    • 27 vessels including airboats and shallow draft vessels
    • 9 UTV/ATVs
    • 1 drone unit
    • 4 swamp buggies
    • 1 command trailer
    • multiple generators
    • mobile communications equipment
    • fuel resupply containers
  • Teams have broken up into smaller units and deployed to:
    • Conduct grid searches and welfare checks in communities in Suwannee Town in Dixie County
    • Perform road clearing missions on roads leading to Horseshoe Beach
    • Assist linemen and fire rescue personnel in Dixie County
    • Perform safety and welfare checks in high-water areas in Steinhatchee, Dekle Beach, Keaton Beach, Cedar Key, Perry and inland throughout Taylor County
  • Multiple base camps with self-sustainment equipment for FWC teams will be established in the region for as long as response assets are needed.
  • A supplemental support team of 15 additional officers and equipment has been identified to provide immediate assistance to the rapid response teams if necessary.
  • FWC response teams have integrated with three teams from the Department of Financial Services Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations with heavy debris removal capability.
  • 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 FWC has set up a hotline (888-404-3922) to report vessels lost, displaced or rendered derelict as a result of the storm.
  • Any damaged, displaced or destroyed waterway marker, sign or buoy should be reported by telephone to 866-405-BUOY (2869) or at myfwc.com/boating/waterway/markers/damaged-or-missing/report-form/.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol has activated 300 troopers and implemented 12-hour Alpha, Bravo to provide resources to impacted areas. This activation has resulted in regular days off being cancelled and 24-Hour enhanced coverage.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actively working to provide any needed assistance to drinking water, wastewater and hazardous waste facilities. Outreach to these facilities to determine operation status is ongoing. 
  • DEP has requested a mobile testing lab from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help process drinking water and surface water samples for the protection of public health. DEP is gathering supplies and testing kits for utilization by the lab, as well as identifying a staging area.
  • DEP’s request for a fuel waiver was granted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily adjust certain regulatory requirements statewide so the state can ensure a sustained, useable fuel supply.
  • DEP’s Hazardous Area Response Teams are deploying alongside DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement’s Special Agents and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Hazard Assessment Teams to aid with assessment and resources for addressing impacts to hazardous waste facilities in impacted areas.  
  • DEP is working in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard to identify oil spills and hazardous material releases on coastal and inland waterways.
  • 54 Disaster Debris Management Sites have been authorized to operate for Hurricane Idalia. These sites are a critical component of expediting clean-up, reducing environmental and public health impacts, and meeting federal reimbursement requirements.   
  • DEP is coordinating post-storm beach surveys to determine impacts to shorelines and erosion from Hurricane Idalia.  
  • DEP is coordinating with Florida’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (FlaWARN), the Florida Rural Water Association and other response agencies to dispatch fuel and pump trucks to assist drinking and wastewater facilities.
  • 14 Florida State Parks strike teams have been assembled to assist with assessment and recovery efforts at impacted parks. Seven teams are on the ground today in impacted areas. Other teams will be deployed as conditions allow and needs are identified. 


Health and Human Services

  • The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) has released more than $104 million in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits early in preparation/response to Hurricane Idalia for over 327,000 households that would normally receive their September SNAP benefit between the 1st - 14th of the month. This applies to SNAP households located in one of the 49 designated counties in Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order. Eligible recipients will have the benefits automatically added to their EBT card. There is no need for recipients to apply.
    • DCF has commenced or completed post storm communications alongside partners to licensed providers and care givers including: Domestic Violence shelters, Human Trafficking Safe Homes, Homelessness Continuums of Care, and other providers. Specifically, the Department and our providers have completed outreach to over 3,000 caregivers including foster parents, 256 child caring agencies, and 790 contacts by Child Protective Investigators for families with an open safety plan have been made.
  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is staging mobile field hospitals and emergency rooms for deployment to facilities in the Big Bend.
  • DOH and AHCA are supporting patient transport and efficient reopening of health care facilities in affected areas.
  • Over 400 ambulances and paratransit buses are deployed or staged to support emergency medical services and patient transport.
  • DOH continues supporting 16 special needs shelters as clients are able to return home following the storm.
  • DOH Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan (CMS) conducted outreach to providers and high-risk clients within 46 counties. CMS has ensured clients have access to early prescription refills.
  • DOH has provided additional supplies of special infant formula to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clients in need. WIC clients have been contacted regarding clinic closures.
  • 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.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is pulling reports utilizing newly developed GIS software that includes information from residential providers and hospitals in impacted areas.
  • AHCA opened an event in the Health Facility Reporting System, All Residential/Inpatient Health Care Providers must submit updates on census, bed availability, evacuation and receiving status, power outages and generator status by 10AM daily & when a situation changes. This has been put in place for all 67 counties.
  • Yesterday, AHCA surveyors completed 23 on-site post-storm visits to conduct health and life safety surveys. These surveys will continue today to ensure facilities can safely care for Floridians.
  • For health facilities with storm damage, damage assessment guidelines, are available here.
  • Teledoc is providing free virtual health care services, including general medical telehealth visits, non-emergency services, and prescription refills, to Florida residents, first responders and others directly impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Call Teladoc directly at 855-225-5032.
  • AHCA sent a Medicaid Provider Alert outlining Key Medicaid Information for Fee-For-Service and Managed Care Providers during Hurricane Idalia, this can be found here.
    • The Agency waived all prior authorization requirements for providers to perform critical services beyond policy limits until further notice.
  • AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS).  Special needs shelters are able to utilize the system to retrieve patient medical records. E-PLUS is also available to assist medical providers and emergency response personnel with locating missing or displaced persons after the storm.
    • The Department of Health began sharing Special Needs Shelter registrations and discharges on August 29, updated data will be sent by DOH at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
    • Digital Services has been credentialed access to the E-PLUS Missing Persons tool to assist them in getting information about individual locations at healthcare facilities.
    • Publix pharmacies have agreed to share data with the E-PLUS and are also being credentialed to use the system to assist with prescribing needs.
  • 100% of operating long-term care facilities have a generator on-site. The Generator Status Map for long-term care facilities is available here.
  • AHCA has contacted the Medicaid Managed Care Plans, to ensure they are allowing for early prescription refills. Fee-for-service recipients are also eligible for early refills.
  • The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), APD and its partners have contacted APD clients, families, providers and critical stakeholders pre-landfall to ensure readiness and track any evacuations plans for post storm activities.
  • APD Field Leadership and their teams continue to check on all clients, providers, and staff in the affected areas to determine health and safety post landfall in order to address any unmet needs as soon as possible.
  • The Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is receiving daily updates from all 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout Florida. The PSA5 AAA physical office will remain closed to staff and the public today given Pinellas EVAC Zone A orders are still in effect.  

Infrastructure, Roads, State Closures and Outages

  • 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. Updates on inspections and testing can be found here.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is maintaining high visibility on interstate systems, bridges, and rest areas. Motorists can report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347).
  • FHP is coordinating UAV flights to capture images of all the State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) towers to ensure state law enforcement personnel have communications to provide Hurricane Idalia response and law enforcement resources.
  • FLHSMV driver license and motor vehicle service center closures can be found here.
  • FDACS has opened up the consumer hotline to receive complaints from consumers impacted by the Port of Tampa fuel contamination. 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) For the latest and real-time road and bridge closures, please visit Florida 511, at FL511.com or download the app. 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.
  • Nearly 700 team members and almost 250 pieces of heavy equipment were deployed to respond to Hurricane Idalia.
    • Including 140 dump trucks, 59 pumps, and 207 other heavy equipment
  • FDOT bridge inspectors have completed all state-owned bridge assessments and all have been cleared for safety.
  • Crew members have completed 66% of Cut and Toss operations through the impacted areas. The main impact area will continue to be restored as power returns and flooding continues to recede.
  • All traffic signals on state-owned facilities have completed assessments. Across the state, only a couple dozen traffic signals are still running temporarily on generators.
  • 13 traffic management centers across the state, which are open 24/7, are monitoring road conditions and traffic levels along critical corridors including I-10, I-75, and I-4 to ensure safe travel for drivers.
  • 185 Road Rangers are available across the state to assist motorists in need.
  • Tolls have been suspended at facilities along the West Coast of Florida until Noon on Tuesday, September 5. The facilities include the I-4 Connector, Selmon Expressway (S.R. 618), Veterans Expressway (S.R. 589), Suncoast Parkway (S.R. 589), Turnpike Mainline (I-75 to I-4), Pinellas Bayway (S.R. 679), Sunshine Skyway Bridge (U.S. 19).
  • FDOT road and bridge contractors have suspended operations on all active construction projects with the exception of the following counties: Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Collier, Lee, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades, Sarasota, Desoto, Highlands, Manatee, Hardee, Polk, Okeechobee, Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Volusia, Marion, and Flagler.
  • FDOT issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow expanded weight and size requirements for vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and agriculture commodities and citrus.
  • For rolling updates on Florida’s airport, seaport, and transit partners, please visit local listings or www.fdot.gov/idalia.
  • For the most up-to-date closures, visit Florida 511, at FL511.com or on the FL511 app.
  • 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.

Resources for Employees and Businesses

  • FloridaCommerce and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey in response to Hurricane Idalia. Survey responses will allow the state to expedite Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts by gathering data and assessing the needs of affected businesses. Businesses can complete the survey online by visiting www.floridadisaster.biz/and selecting “Hurricane Idalia” from the dropdown menu.
  • In partnership with FloridaCommerce, DOH has provided resources to private sector partners selling generators to Floridians regarding generator safety and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. Information regarding proper generator safety has also been distributed on social media platforms.
  • 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 or invoice packages for reimbursement, as appropriate, to ensure critical services to Floridians are not disrupted.
  • FloridaCommerce is hosting 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 impacted areas to support economic resiliency in their communities.
  • FloridaCommerce has also been in contact with Amazon who will donate gift cards and supplies to nonprofits impacted by Hurricane Idalia.
  • U-HAUL is offering 30 days of free self-storage or container use at more than 50 of its locations across the state. For more information contact the nearest participating location: bit.ly/3Ehal49.
  • OnStar: Crisis Mode has been turned on for all OnStar-equipped Chevrolet, Buick, GMC & Cadillac owners impacted by Idalia. Services are complimentary. Just push your OnStar button and say “Advisor.”
  • Wells Fargo is ready to support Floridians by providing access to your accounts, banker support on their customer assistance line at 1-800-219-9739.
  • Visa is waiving interchange fees for donations made to the Florida Relief Fund. They will match employee donations made in support of Florida disaster relief efforts and the Visa Small Business Team has activated their Back to Business tools to help Floridians affected by Hurricane Idalia.
  • Comcast has opened 141,000 public Xfinity WiFi hotspots in areas it serves across Florida in Hurricane Idalia’s potential path for anyone to use, including non-Xfinity customers, for free.
  • AT&T has more than 80 AT&T Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) team members and AT&T employees traveled from around the country in Florida so that they are ready to move into affected areas as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Uber announced FREE* round-trip rides to Florida shelter locations in Alachua, Citrus, Collier, Dixie, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Leon, Marion, Manatee, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, Union, and Volusia counties in preparation of Hurricane Idalia
    • Open your app.
    • Tap “Account” on the bottom right.
    • Tap Wallet
    • Scroll down to “+ Add Promo Code.”
    • Enter code IDALIARELIEF
    • *Up to $35 each way, to and from a state- approved evacuation shelter listed at floridadisaster.org/planprepare/shelters.
  • VISIT FLORIDA has activated the Emergency Accommodations Module with Expedia to provide real-time availability of hotel rooms throughout the state.
  • Updates on closures and business resources are consistently being updated at FloridaDisaster.Biz/CurrentDisasterUpdates.
  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) linking the Boil Water Notice Guidelines and the Emergency Recovery Guidelines was sent to food and lodging establishments throughout the impacted areas of the state to help businesses prepare for post-storm recovery.
  • DBPR is coordinating with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to secure accommodations for state workers and first responders deploying to impacted areas.
  • The DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants is coordinating emergency response teams in the Big Bend, North Florida and Tampa Bay regions for deployment after first responder and search and rescue operations conclude 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. Once homeowners are safely able to assess their home repair needs, DBPR encourages them to log onto DCNOnline.org and search by county for a list of Florida-licensed contractors providing these services in their community.
  • OIR issued an Informational Memorandum to all authorized residential property insurers to provide guidance on hurricane preparedness and response. OIR directed insurers to review all aspects of their disaster preparedness and response plans to ensure they’re in compliance with Florida law. Informational Memorandum OIR-23-05M is available here.

Emergency Orders

  • DBPR Emergency Order 2023-06 extends multiple deadlines for license renewals, and:
    • Extends the deadline for the filing of monthly reports and returns by certain alcoholic beverage and tobacco license holders to October 25, 2023.
    • Suspends and tolls through October 25, 2023, all final orders reflecting agency action and all-time requirements and deadlines for filing responses outlined in agency orders through September 28, 2023.
    • Suspends and tolls the annual $4 mobile home fee and $1 surcharge for mobile home park owners.
    • Waives the $200 fee for the issuance of temporary licenses for out-of-state veterinarians through October 25, 2023.
  • 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, supplies, and agriculture commodities and citrus.

Follow @FLSERT and @GovRonDeSantis on X, formerly known as Twitter, for live updates. Visit FloridaDisaster.org/Updates for more information.


Updated: Thursday, August 31, 2023
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