TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This morning, Governor Ron DeSantis provided updates on Hurricane Idalia at the State Emergency Operations Center with Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Executive Director Kevin Guthrie, FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue and Major General John Haas. As the storm approaches, landfall is expected early Wednesday morning with evacuation orders being called across 22 counties. The Governor also expanded the Executive Order to include three additional counties, bringing the total to 49 counties under a state of emergency. Full remarks can be found here.
FDEM has launched the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL), a toll-free hotline activated at the time of an emergency to provide an additional resource for those in Florida to receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding an emergency or disaster situation impacting the State of Florida. Residents can call the SAIL hotline at 1-800-342-3557.
Today, Tropical Storm Idalia has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. It is predicted to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane. 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 120 miles west of the Dry Tortugas. Idalia has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and is forecast to have the greatest impact to the state during the overnight hours of Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon.
Storm surge watch is in effect along the Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota County border to the Collier/Monroe County border, including Charlotte Harbor.
Storm surge warning is in effect along the Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota border to the Franklin/Gulf County border, including Tampa Bay.
Tropical storm watch is in effect for inland Collier and the Lower Keys.
Tropical storm warning is in effect for Baker, Bradford, Brevard Charlotte, Clay, coastal Collier, DeSoto, Duval, inland Franklin, Flagler, Gadsden, Gulf, Hardee, Lake, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Central and Eastern Marion, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St, Johns, Union, Volusia, and inland Wakulla counties, as well as the Dry Tortugas.
Hurricane watch is in effect for Eastern Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Leon, central Marion, Sarasota, Union, and inland Wakulla counties.
Hurricane warning is in effect for western Alachua, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, coastal Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Manatee, western Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Suwanee, 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 100 pallets of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), nearly 500 pallets of bottled water, and more than 20 pallets of tarps.
- The Florida National Guard (FLNG) has been fully activated, with a mobilization of 3,700 guardsmen in position across the state for preparedness and response efforts. An additional 1,800 guardsmen are on the way bringing the total to 5,500 prior to the storm landing.
- 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) has activated the State Emergency Operations Center Team to support ongoing operations. FDLE has prepared:
- One mobile command vehicle;
- One operations command center;
- Six mobile staging units;
- 80 agents and analysts ready to deploy;
- Three large trailers;
- Four box trailers;
- Two cargo trucks;
- One forklift;
- 24 generators and,
- 30 chainsaws
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has readied all storm response resources statewide so they may be rapidly deployed to assist Floridians in need in the event of damage or flooding due to Hurricane Idalia. Contingency plans based on forecasted landfall locations have been developed and are flexible based on the storm’s projected path.
- A rapid response team consisting of officers, support staff and equipment are staging for immediate deployment following Hurricane Idalia’s exit from the impact zone. This team consists of assets outside the immediate impact area. The team will consist of 46 officers and support personnel and the following equipment:
- 46 high water vehicles including four-wheel drives
- 12 vessels including airboats and shallow draft vessels
- 4 UTV/ATVs
- 4 Swamp buggies
- 2 supply trailers
- 1 command trailer
- multiple generators
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 implemented 12-hour Alpha, Bravo shifts at 6 a.m. 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.
- All Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) 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) will be releasing SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits early in preparation/response to Hurricane Idalia for 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 46 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’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 preparing to deploy 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 staged 33 strike teams, with nearly 200 ambulances, for any facility evacuations or patient transport needs. Staging is currently in Marianna and Lakeland. An additional 200 ambulances have been requested.
- DOH has provided additional supplies of special infant formula to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clients in need.
- DOH met with Epilepsy Services Program Providers to open lines of communication if their clients, epilepsy patients, or persons with disabilities need resources during and after the storm.
- 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 remains in contact with Medical Foster Care (MFC) families to ensure services and needs are met.
- The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is pulling reports utilizing newly developed GIS software that includes information from residential providers and hospitals in counties under the State of Emergency.
- AHCA sent a Medicaid Provider Alert outlining Key Medicaid Information for Fee-For-Service and Managed Care Providers during Tropical Storm Idalia, this can be found here.
- 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.
- AHCA has contacted the Department of Health for inputting shelter registration information into E-PLUS system as special need shelters begin opening.
- 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
- AHCA partnered with Florida Health Care Association and Florida Hospital Association to initiate statewide calls with long term care facilities and hospitals.
- 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 opened an event in the Health Facility Reporting System ahead of any potential impacts. 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 and 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.
- AHCA Secretary Jason Weida has spoken with the CEOs of all hospitals that are evacuating and in the coastal cone.
- 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.
- APD initiated and established daily partner calls to effectively provide and receive information to proactively respond and anticipate future needs. Partners include:
- Arc of Florida
- Florida Association of Rehabilitative Facilities
- Florida Developmental Disabilities Council
- Waiver Support Coordinator Associations
- Family Care Council Chairs
- APD disseminated and collected daily situation reports throughout the state to capture data related to current state and activities including census, staffing, site readiness, emerging situations and unmet needs for APD clients, providers, Developmental Disability Centers, and group homes.
- APD conducted a site visit to the Developmental Disability Center (Tacachale) located in Gainesville, FL to support the team and ensure facility readiness.
- WaterTracker is active, DEP’s online portal for drinking and wastewater facilities to report their operational status.
- Walgreens has four mobile pharmacies positioned ready to deploy along with additional generators and are prepared to provide mobile pharmacy services for shelters.
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 nearly 700 team members strategically staged across the state and ready to deploy, which includes 64 Bridge Inspectors and 224 Cut and Toss crew members.
- FDOT crews are equipped with almost 400 pieces of major equipment, including 140 dump trucks, 59 pumps, and 207 other heavy equipment (front-end loaders, skid-steers, etc.)
- Nearly 1,100 generators have been staged near the storm’s direct path to be able to quickly restore traffic signals following the storm.
- All 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.
- In consultation with state partners, and under the direction of Governor DeSantis, tolls have been suspended at facilities along the West Coast of Florida for 7 days. 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).
- All FDOT road and bridge contractors have suspended operations on active construction projects in the following counties: Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Marion, Alachua, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Columbia, Union, Bradford, Putnam, Clay, Baker, Hamilton, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Mantee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Desoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Highlands, Polk, Sumter, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Flagler, Osceola, Brevard, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Bay, Washington, Holmes and Walton.
- The Howard Frankland Bridge project in Tampa is completing the process of securing barges in the area. All other active construction projects are taking necessary actions related to storm preparations such as securing work sites including barges and marine equipment, lowering high mast arm lighting, clearing traffic control devices that are not actively being used to direct traffic, and checking drainage systems.
- 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 has postponed previously scheduled maintenance activities on Jacksonville’s Main Street Bridge and the St. Augustine Bridge of Lions.
- 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 is monitoring traffic levels along I-10, I-75, and I-4 to ensure safe flow of traffic as the storm’s predicted path becomes clearer.
- FDOT is working with utility providers to allow staging of utility trucks at weigh stations across the state as well as coordinate post-storm debris operations in support of swift electrical power restoration.
- Movable bridge lockdowns are being coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard.
- FDOT is activating district emergency and pre-event contracts for post-storm operations including debris removal, traffic signal and lighting repairs, and generators.
- FDOT reminds motorists to always drive safely. Remember to avoid distractions and slow down during inclement weather.
- Tampa International Airport is closed to commercial operations and cargo operations.
- St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, (8/29).
- For passenger service updates, please continually check your local listings as the status of services continues to rapidly change.
- Port Panama City, Port St. Joe, Port Fernandina, JAXPORT, Port Canaveral, and Port Key West are actively preparing for the approaching storm.
- Port Tampa Bay, Port of St. Petersburg, and Seaport Manatee landside operations remain open, however the ports are closed to inbound vessels.
- All ports currently have adequate fuel supplies and are well-positioned to quickly reinstate operations following the storm to keep fuel supplies moving.
- Transit and Rail:
- For passenger service updates, please continually check your local listings as the status of services continues to rapidly change.
- SunRail service has been suspended.
- Florida’s four regional railroads (Florida Northern, Florida Midland, Florida Central and Port Manatee Railroads): will suspend operations the afternoon of Tuesday, August 29.
- Baker Council on Aging (COA): Service will be suspended on Wednesday, August 30.
- Citrus Connection will run a modified service on Tuesday, August 29.
- Citrus County Transit is suspending door-to-door service until Thursday, August 31.
- City of Gainesville RTS is providing reduced service after 1 pm on Tuesday, August 29.
- Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) offered Emergency Service on Tuesday, August 29. HART will offer free service on limited or reduced service routes.
- ARC Jacksonville is closing Wednesday, August 30.
- Jacksonville Transportation Authority will suspend ferry operations on Tuesday, August 29.
- City of Key West Transit has modified service starting today Tuesday, August 29.
- Levy County Transit will run limited service for dialysis on Tuesday, August 29.
- Manatee Transit will begin evacuation trips at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.
- Marion County Transit will suspend service on Wednesday, August 30.
- Nassau COA will suspend service starting on Wednesday, August 30.
- Pinellas Suncoast Transit (PSTA) will suspend service at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.
- Putnam Ride Solutions is providing Medically Needy trip requests only.
- ARC Putnam is closing Wednesday, August 30.
- Sarasota County Breeze will suspend service beginning at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.
- St. Johns River Ferry will suspend operations on Tuesday, August 29.
- St. Johns is on standby to assist with evacuation. Paratransit closed Wednesday, August 30.
- Suwannee River Economic Council is closed Wednesday, August 30.
- Volusia County Votran will suspend service at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has published a storm updates webpage to keep state park visitors updated of closures: floridastateparks.org/StormUpdates. Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at closed parks have been notified of their reservation status.
- DEP has pre-authorized 627 Disaster Debris Management Sites for the counties included in the Governor’s Executive Order to temporarily stage storm-generated debris that may result from the storm.
- DEP is coordinating with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to respond to potential fuel availability impacts following the Port of Tampa Bay fuel mixing issue.
- Florida’s water management districts’ webpages have been updated to include links for real-time tracking of water levels.
- 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.
- 43 County School Districts have issued closures.
- 16 Florida State College Systems have issued closures.
- Seven State University Systems have issued closures.
- One State Testing Site has issued closures.
- Five Division of Blind Services have issued closures.
Private Sector Resources
- 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 [email protected].
- 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 anticipated impacted areas to support economic resiliency in their communities.
- The following CareerSource locations will experience closures:
- CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion – from 5 p.m. on 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
- CareerSource Pasco Hernando – from 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
- CareerSource Tampa Bay – from 3 p.m. on 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
- CareerSource Gulf Coast Apalachicola Satellite Office- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
- CareerSource North Florida- from 12 p.m. 8/29/23 through 8/30/23.
- CareerSource Florida Crown- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
- CareerSource North Central Florida- from 1 p.m. 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
- CareerSource Pinellas- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
- CareerSource Suncoast- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
- FloridaCommerce partners, including CVS, Walmart, Publix, Kroger, 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.
- Comcast’s preparations include staging emergency generators and fuel trucks as well as bringing in additional technical and network restoration teams that are ready to be deployed into any impacted area.
- FloridaCommerce has also been in contact with Amazon who will donate gift cards and supplies to nonprofits following the storm.
- FloridaCommerce has been in contact with Uber to set up rides to shelters. More information on that will be available soon.
- Businesses located in Florida are encouraged to review the Business Re-Entry Procedures and ensure that employees have the required documentation prior to the storm’s arrival.
- Rosen Hotels and Resorts is activating their Florida Residents Distressed Rates to give Floridians a safe, affordable place to stay during Tropical Strom Idalia. Evacuees can call 866-33-ROSEN (76736) to reserve a room.
- VISIT FLORIDA has activated the Emergency Accommodations Module with Expedia to provide real-time availability of hotel rooms throughout the state.
- DBPR sent an email with Boil Water Notice Guidelines and sent to food and lodging establishments throughout the impacted areas of the state to help businesses prepare for post-storm recovery.
- The DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants is coordinating and preparing emergency response teams in the Big Bend, North Florida and Tampa Bay regions 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.
- In response to potential impacts from Hurricane Idalia, DBPR has closed district offices today, Tuesday, August 29, 2023, in Fort Myers, Gainesville (at 1 p.m.), Jacksonville, Largo and Tampa. DBPR will continue to monitor storm conditions and make determinations on additional closures for the safety of staff and visitors as necessary.
- DBPR has published an emergency page at MyFloridaLicense.com/emergency, where the current status of DBPR office closures, executive orders, board meeting updates, and other resources related to Hurricane Idalia will be posted as necessary.
- The DBPR Division of Service Operations is currently prioritizing the processing of roofing contractor and construction out-of-state endorsement applications to ensure an abundance of qualified, licensed contractors are available to legally provide construction and repair services to homeowners after Hurricane Idalia.
- 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.
- State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed Emergency Order 23-001, which:
- Waives competitive procurement requirements in order to procure commodities, goods, and services expeditiously in response to the emergency.
- Permits emergency medical transportation services to operate across county lines.
- Permits paramedics and EMT’s licensed in other U.S. states, territories, or districts to practice in Florida in response to the emergency without penalty.
- The State Surgeon General signed Emergency Order 23-002, which:
- Permits mobile pharmacies to operate during the state of emergency.
- Extends the reporting requirement for controlled substances to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, contained in section 893.055(3)(a), Florida Statutes, from 1 day to up to 30 days.
- Extends the licensure renewal deadlines set forth in sections 468.309(1)(a), 480.043(10), and 480.0415, Florida Statutes, for upcoming license renewals of radiological personnel, massage therapists, and massage establishments.
- 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.
- FLHSMV has 5 Florida Licensing On Wheels (FLOW) Mobiles and 6 mini-FLOW mobiles ready to deploy to impacted areas to help residents replace important documents such as identification cards.
- 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.
Originally published at https://www.flgov.com/2023/08/29/governor-ron-desantis-issues-updates-on-hurricane-idalia/