TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis provided updates about the January severe weather event at the State Emergency Operations Center. Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 24-03, which designates 49 counties as being under a state of emergency in order to maximize resources available to impacted counties. In preparation for the severe weather, on Monday Governor DeSantis activated the Florida National Guard. Full remarks are available here. A tornado watch will remain in effect for the Florida Panhandle and Suwannee River Valley through 2 p.m. EST for the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
There is an enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms across the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, Nature Coast, and through the Suwannee River Valley advancing eastward. West-Central Florida is expected to experience severe thunderstorms by early afternoon today.
In anticipation of severe weather conditions, multiple counties closed schools and campuses ahead of January 9, 2024. School closures for Wednesday, January 10, will be announced throughout the day. School and campus closures can be found on the Florida Department of Education Storm Information page here.
There are over 87,700 accounts reported without power due to the severe weather event. Florida’s utility providers pre-positioned crews across the state to respond and are actively working to restore power where it is safe to do so. The Florida Department of Transportation continues to coordinate with Florida utility providers, counties, and municipalities on roadway conditions to ensure roadways are cleared with power restoration in mind.
State Response Efforts
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the multi-hazard severe weather event.
The SEOC has been activated to a Level 1 with all Emergency Support Functions (ESF’s) present and coordinating.
The SERT is hosting twice daily calls with all county emergency management offices to address any reported unmet needs.
For information on school closures, road closures, and other vital updates, visit FloridaDisaster.org/StormInfo.
The Florida State Guard was activated by the Governor to support preparation and response efforts in coordination with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and other state partners. The activation of the following volunteers and resources has been initiated:
A logistics team deployed to Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (CBJTC) within six hours of activation to pre-stage vehicles and prepare route clearance equipment and recovery supplies.
31 soldiers are staged and will deploy to assist with damage assessments and other missions as requested. Additional soldiers are on standby to assist impacted counties with distributed logistics as needed.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies to address unmet needs as a result of the severe weather event.
FDLE has prepared a mobile command vehicle, command post and sleeping unit ready for deployment.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) distributed instructions to vessel owners in the projected path of the storm to secure their boats ahead of severe weather.
FWC officers throughout North Florida have transitioned to an increased state of readiness to respond to wind-damaged areas or high-water events.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is prepared to provide assistance to drinking water, wastewater and hazardous waste facilities affected by today’s severe weather.
DEP is prepared to conduct post-storm beach surveys to determine impacts to shorelines and erosion, as well as inspect damage to beach projects.
State parks in the Florida Panhandle have delayed opening and will resume normal operations as weather permits. Visitors are encouraged to visit FloridaStateParks.org to check the status of individual parks.
Health and Human Services
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Calhoun County and Liberty County have prepared to open Special Needs Shelters if needed.
The following County Health Departments Offices are closed on Tuesday, January 9, 2024: Leon County, Franklin County, Wakulla County, Gadsden County, Gulf County, Madison County and Duval County. DOH will provide updates regarding reopenings and service availability as this information becomes available.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clients have been contacted regarding access to remote services due to closures or limited operations in the following counties: Santa Rosa County, Escambia County, Okaloosa County, Franklin County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, Madison County, Taylor County, Leon County, Bay County and Gulf County.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has remained in contact with hospitals and health care facilities in the impacted areas.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), is continuing to work to contact clients, providers and partners to determine safety and wellbeing and assess unmet needs.
The Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) Area Agencies on Aging are monitoring the severe weather.
The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas shared emergency information with their local aging network and asked to be notified if any unmet needs arise.
Infrastructure, Roads, State Closures and Outages
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) initiated statewide coordination calls on Monday and is actively monitoring the storm including flood-prone areas, winds for potential bridge closures in coordination with Florida Highway Patrol, and road maintenance.
Overnight Monday, FDOT Road Ranger operations in the Northwest FL region extended hours of service to cover overnight needs for roadside assistance.
As of Tuesday morning, FDOT maintenance crews have cleared downed trees on I-10 in Walton and Holmes counties.
Additionally, FDOT maintenance crews have cleared downed trees along State Road 285 in Okaloosa County, State Road 69 in Jackson County, and US 90 in Leon County.
In Tampa, the Howard Frankland construction barges have been secured for potential wind and wave impacts.
FDOT crews engaged in pre-storm preparations, which include checking roadways for potential drainage concerns, placing additional team members on standby, securing operations yards and staging equipment as needed across the state.
As conditions are rapidly changing, please refer to FL511.com for real-time road and bridge closures.
The Florida Department of Education is consistently updating its website with school district closures, as well as State University System and Florida College System Closures.
Resources for Employees and Businesses
Florida Commerce has activated the Florida Private Sector Hotline (850-815-4925). Inquiries may also be emailed to ESF18@em.myflorida.com.
Today, FloridaCommerce and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey in response to January severe weather. Businesses can complete the survey online by visiting www.FloridaDisaster.biz and selecting “January Severe Weather” from the dropdown menu.
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
CareerSource Capital Region
CareerSource Gulf Coast
CareerSource Okaloosa Walton
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has suspended certain provisions of section 489.113(3), Florida Statutes to allow certified or registered general, building, or residential contractors to subcontract roofing work for the repair or installation of any roof type in listed counties:
Registered contractors are not subject to geographic scope limitations or requirements in section 489.513(5), Florida Statutes, when providing services in listed counties, subject to additional requirements outlined in the emergency order.
Registered contractors are required to provide their state registration, proof of compliance with applicable workers’ compensation, and liability and property damage insurance to the jurisdiction in which the work is being performed.
DBPR encourages Florida’s licensed contractors who are looking to help property owners in need of post-storm construction-related services to register with its 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.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is in close communication with law enforcement and transportation partners and stands ready to assist for potential storm impacts.
The Florida Highway Patrol is prepared to implement altered shifts in preparation for any potential storm response.
The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring bridges and prepared to close certain bridges in the event of dangerous conditions.
Follow @FLSERT and @GovRonDeSantis on X, formerly known as Twitter, for live updates. Visit FloridaDisaster.org/ for more information.