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ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on January Severe Weather


1/10/2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis provided updates on the state response efforts to the tornadoes that impacted Northwest Florida. The Florida Division of Emergency Management’s (FDEM) Executive Director Kevin Guthrie is visiting impacted areas while FDEM recovery staff begin damage assessments.

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.

Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $10 million available for businesses impacted by yesterday’s severe weather. Florida small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to apply. Businesses in Bay and Jackson counties, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply. 

FDEM has launched the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL), a toll-free hotline activated at the time of an emergency to provide resources and up-to-date information regarding the severe weather recovery. Residents can call the SAIL hotline at 1-800-342-3557.

82,000 accounts reported without power due to the severe weather event have been restored. Florida’s utility providers pre-positioned crews across the state to respond and are actively working to restore power to the remaining accounts. 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.

The Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (FLVOAD) is hosting statewide calls to coordinate resources and services being provided to those affected by the January severe weather. Resources include 800 disaster buckets, tools and necessity kits as well as assessments for any food and sheltering needs.

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.

  • FDEM has two teams on the ground today in Bay County conducting damage assessments and two teams going to Jackson County for damage assessments.

  • Starlinks have been deployed to support internet access for FloridaCommerce in impacted areas.

  • The Florida State Guard remains committed to supporting the Florida Division of Emergency Management in the recovery from storm-related damage to individuals and impacted communities. Active recovery efforts include:   

  • A supplemental crisis response team deployed to Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (CBJTC) in preparation for anticipated route clearance missions.   

  • Two additional crisis response teams deployed to Bay and Jackson counties to conduct damage assessments in partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management.   

  • 25 soldiers from central and north Florida remain on standby, ready to assist. An additional 15 soldiers are on standby to support impacted counties with distributing logistics as needed.   

  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is at the State Emergency Operations Center coordinating law enforcement requests that come in as a result of the storm.  Requests include help with law enforcement communications equipment and generators, along with supplemental patrol to assist local agencies.

  • More than 20 FDLE members are deployed following the severe weather.

  • To assist with law enforcement communications, FDLE deployed its Emergency Deployable Interoperable Communication (EDIC) tower to Jackson County. 

  • The State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) radio tower in Jackson County collapsed during the storm.  FDLE coordinated with vendor to put in a longer-term temporary tower until a more permanent radio tower can be installed.

  • 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. 

  • Fifteen FWC officers are assisting FDLE and Jackson County Emergency Management by conducting welfare checks and providing assistance to utility crews in the area.

  • Seven FWC officers are conducting welfare checks in Bay County in conjunction with Emergency Management.

  • FWC officers throughout North Florida have transitioned to an increase state of readiness to respond to wind damaged areas or high-water events.

  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is coordinating with Florida’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (FlaWARN), the Florida Rural Water Association and other response agencies to support drinking and wastewater facilities in impacted areas.   

  • DEP’s Emergency Responders are working in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard to identify oil spills and hazardous material releases on coastal and inland waterways in impacted areas.  

  • DEP is coordinating post-storm beach surveys to determine impacts to shorelines and erosion from the storm.    

  • All state parks in the Florida panhandle have resumed normal operations, except for St. Andrews State Park. Visitors are encouraged to visit FloridaStateParks.org to check the operational status of individual parks.  

Health and Human Services

  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) sent information regarding early prescription refills permitted under Executive Order 24-03. This information was sent to the public, health insurers, managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacy chains, and health care providers.  

  • All county health departments in affected areas are currently open and have returned to normal operations. DOH will provide updates regarding any changes in service availability as this information becomes available. 

  • All Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services in affected areas have returned to normal operations. 

  • 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.  

  • APD continues supporting facilities as they assess storm damage and unmet needs.   

Infrastructure, Roads, State Closures and Outages

  • Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) crews have responded to multiple areas of downed trees. All interstates and state roads have reopened following cut and toss and debris pick up efforts. 

  • Temporary road closures to support utility restoration:

  • S.R. 2 between County Road 193 and Parkview Road closed in Jackson County. Detour in place directing travelers to use Shiloh Church Road.

  • U.S. 90 at Mill Pond in Marianna will have intermittent eastbound and westbound closures.

  • S.R. 51 southbound lane (Steinhatchee) has water on the road; signs are deployed.

  • The Hamilton Welcome Center is on generator power. Technicians have been  mobilized.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $10 million available for businesses impacted by yesterday’s severe weather. Florida small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to apply. Businesses in Bay and Jackson counties, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply.

  • FloridaCommerce is on the ground in Bay, Jackson, Gulf, Liberty and Calhoun counties canvassing impacted local businesses.

  • FloridaCommerce established a Business Resource Site today in Bay County at Gulf Coast State College 5230 US-98 Panama City, FL 32401. Operating hours for the site will be 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Central Time. CareerSource, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Citizens Property Insurance, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Small Business Development Center will have representatives on site in the coming days.

  • VISITFLORIDA has activated the Expedia Emergency Accommodations Module following the significant impacts of the storm. Residents and visitors impacted by the storm can find real-time hotel availability here.

  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is prioritizing the processing of roofing contractor and construction out-of-state endorsement applications within two business days to ensure an abundance of qualified, licensed contractors are available to legally provide construction and repair services to homeowners recovering from the January Severe Weather event.

  • DBPR joined FloridaCommerce today to conduct outreach at impacted businesses in Bay, Calhoun, Jackson and Liberty counties, encouraging business owners to complete the Business Damage Assessment Survey and warning business owners against unlicensed contracting scams. A DBPR investigator is also conducting sweeps in the Panama City area to assess damages, catch any instances of unlicensed activity and educate residents on the importance of hiring licensed contractors for home repair work.

  • DBPR is proactively contacting prescription wholesale stakeholders to provide information on emergency provisions under Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 24-03, as well as assess any unmet needs as a result of the severe weather.  

  • 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) continues to communicate with law enforcement and transportation partners for recovery efforts.

  • The Florida Highway Patrol is staffing the State Emergency Operations Center to support recovery efforts. Additional staffing to local EOC’s affected by the storm is being maintained.

  • The Florida Highway Patrol has completed the escort for State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) radio trailers with generator for communication recovery due to storm impacts in Marianna.

  • The Florida Highway Patrol is staffing static posts in Bay County in storm impacted areas.

  • The Florida Highway Patrol assisted Jackson County Sheriff’s Office with supplemental staffing overnight in storm impacted areas. 

  • The Florida Highway Patrol has UASs deployed to the Florida panhandle to assist with damage assessments and recovery efforts.

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


ABOUT FLORIDA STATE GUARD | WHEN DISASTER CALLS, WE ANSWER

With a heritage dating back to WWII, the Florida State Guard was reactivated in 2022 as a state-supported volunteer force providing rapid response humanitarian aid during natural and manmade disasters. The Florida State Guard is committed to serving Florida families in times of need—anytime, anywhere.

 

For more information, visit https://www.floridastateguard.org/ . Connect with the Florida State Guard on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.




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