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Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on State Preparedness for Hurricane Ian

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Press Release

From Governor DeSantis’ Office, 9-27-22

Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on State Preparedness for Hurricane Ian
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This Afternoon, Governor Ron DeSantis issued updates on Hurricane Ian at the State Emergency Operations Center with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. Full remarks are available here.  

Ian became a Category 3 hurricane early this morning and is located in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, roughly 180 miles south of Punta Gorda as of 8pm. Hurricane Ian will approach the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday and storm impacts are expected to spread northward throughout the week.

Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been issued for coastal communities, mobile homes and low-lying areas in the following counties: Charlotte Citrus Collier Hernando Hillsborough Lee Levy Manatee Pasco Pinellas Putnam Sarasota

Current Watches and Warnings in Effect:
A Hurricane Warning has been issued for west central Florida including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Lake, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Okeechobee, Hardee, Highlands, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee, Coastal Collier counties.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Glades, Hendry, Inland Collier counties. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Inland Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Levy, Dixie, Coastal Taylor, Coastal Jefferson, Coastal Wakulla, Coastal Franklin, Marion, Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns, Duval, Coastal Nassau, Clay, Putnam counties.

Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for Inland Nassau, Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Gilchrist counties.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Suwannee River southward to Flamingo, including Tampa Bay, Dry Tortugas, as well as from the Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. A Surge Warning is also in effect along the St. Johns River.    

State preparation and response efforts include:

Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) FDEM has activated the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) to provide an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Ian. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557. FDEM Liaisons are being identified and deployed to counties to provide on-site response assistance and to conduct damage assessments after the storm. At the direction of FDEM Director and State Coordinating Officer Kevin Guthrie, an Incident Management Team (IMT) from Ohio is en route to Florida to ensure additional support for response and recovery efforts after the storm. FDEM is deploying several hundred shelter support staff to address staffing needs in counties that have opened their Special Needs hurricane shelters. FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Ian response, with more than 350 SERT members staffing the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The Division has received more than 600 resource requests for Hurricane Ian and fulfilled 495. Requests are currently being processed and are either en route or being mobilized. This includes the coordination of resources such as: trucks of food and water, generators and water pumps. 160 truckloads (85 loads of water and 75 loads of MREs) are ready to deploy, with some of this supply already en route to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Several hundred generators and pumps, in addition to debris equipment, have been staged for response and recovery efforts. 100,000 tarps to protect homes and allow more residents to stay at home rather than in a public shelter. Five Florida Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams are activated, and will be prepared to deploy to impacted areas. Federal USAR Teams from Virginia, Texas and Indiana stand ready to assist in response and recovery efforts, and a federal USAR Team from Ohio is currently mobilizing. FDEM is currently coordinating the provision of meals for first responders staged in Orange County. FDEM has begun setting up a Logistical Staging Area in Polk County and is identifying potential additional staging areas and points of distribution to ensure food and water are readily available if counties request it. FDEM has loaded 360 trailers with over 2 million meals and over one million gallons of water in preparation for distribution to impacted areas. FDEM is in constant communication with all 67 county emergency management offices and state agencies to coordinate protective actions and needed resources ahead of potential storm impacts. FDEM is coordinating with utilities to ensure crews are prepared to respond and restore power. Utility providers have more than 30,000 linemen staged and prepared for power restoration efforts.  

Florida National Guard Following Governor DeSantis’ authorization, a total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen are being activated to State Active Duty and pre-positioned at armories across the state for Tropical Storm Ian response operations. 2,000 Guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also being activated to assist. In addition, the Florida Guard has mobilized and is on standby with five Route Clearance Teams and Aviation assets. The Florida National Guard is well-equipped, with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats, generators and more.  

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) In advance of Hurricane Ian, FDLE regional support and logistics teams throughout the state are preparing to deploy personnel and equipment for a ready response to the aftermath of the storm. FDLE has started pre-staging equipment and mobile command posts at strategic locations. Teams with chainsaws, tarps, and other supplies are assembling.  

Florida Department of Health (DOH) The Department and Agency for Health Care Administration have initiated Patient Movement Mission to support medical transport and evacuations of health care facilities.  This mission is evacuating 15 hospitals in areas of anticipated landfall. The Department continues to assess and support any additional necessary evacuations. This mission also supports the evacuation of over 100 health care facilities.  Nearly 400 ambulances, paratransit busses, and support vehicles are responding to areas of anticipated landfall.  The Department has prepared for Special Needs Shelter operations to begin in areas of anticipated landfall. A press release has been deployed statewide for additional information on special needs shelters. 

The State Surgeon General has signed Emergency Order 22-001 waiving statutory procurement requirements to ensure the Department is able to deploy necessary action due to Hurricane Ian. This can be found here. The State Surgeon General has signed a letter to allow staff of the Department and Agency for Health Care Administration to travel past curfews across state lines to conduct any necessary health and safety actions.  The Department has coordinated with the Office of Insurance Regulation to distribute an alert regarding permitted early prescription refills during a State of Emergency. This alert was sent to health insurers, managed care organizations, health entities, and licensed health care providers. The alert can be found here. The Department has coordinated with Federal partners to support the deployment of nearly 100 individuals through various health and medical teams. These teams stand ready in Orlando, Atlanta, and Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia. 

The Florida Department of Health (Department) continues to coordinate across 67 county health departments on any necessary preparation resources, in coordination with county emergency managers.    

Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) AHCA has activated reporting in the Health Facility Reporting System (HFRS) and is requesting all health care providers report their census, available beds, evacuation status and generator status information. This information allows AHCA to assist health care providers in transferring patients if needed and ensure health care providers in impacted areas have the necessary resources and adequate power. Patient Movement Mission (DOH 4052) is activated. This mission is a combined by AHCA, along with FHA, FHCA, LeadingAge, Florida Senior Living and Florida Assisted Living Associations.

The Agency sent a Medicaid Provider Alert outlining Key Medicaid Information for Fee-For-Service and Managed Care Providers during Hurricane Ian, this can be found here. AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS).  Special needs shelters for 16 counties 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 State Surgeon General has signed a letter to allow staff of the Department and Agency for Health Care Administration to travel past curfews across state lines to conduct any necessary health and safety actions, this can be found here. 80.13% of all facilities have reported into the Health Facility Reporting System. AHCA has completed 296 onsite visits in Nursing Homes and ALFs that were previously identified as out of compliance with generator requirements. AHCA is working to identify Home Medical Equipment providers that can assist with supplying oxygen supplies to Special Needs Shelters. The Agency will be partnering with Florida Health Care Association and Florida Hospital Association to initiate statewide calls with long term care facilities and hospitals. As of today, 100% of operating long-term care facilities have a generator on-site. The Generator Status Map for long-term care facilities is available here.  

Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) APD hosted a virtual meeting with its partner associations to update them on storm activities and to offer assistance, if needed. APD Regions have reached out to 2,135 group homes to ensure there are no unmet needs. In APD’s Suncoast Region, more than 50 group homes are in mandatory Evacuation Zones have enacted their Emergency Preparedness plans and are evacuating.  

Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Early Learning Coalitions have closed in the following counties: Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands, Charlotte, Hillsborough, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades, Manatee, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota. DCF has been working with contracted partners, including, Managing Entities, Community Based Care lead agencies, and child care providers to ensure Florida’s communities remain apprised of all storm updates and are making preparations for potential impacts. DCF is also ensuring all Mental Health Treatment Facilities and methadone treatment programs are prepared for the storm. DCF’s federal waiver request to release SNAP benefits early in preparation for Hurricane Ian was approved, and food assistance benefits will be released earlier than scheduled to Floridians that may be impacted by Hurricane Ian. More information here: ACCESS Florida – Florida Department of Children and Families (myflfamilies.com)  

Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) DOEA service providers around the state are in progress or have completed check-in and informational calls to their senior clients. Area Agencies on Aging that are expected to be impacted by Hurricane Ian have been distributing shelf-stable meals to their home delivery meal clients. Area Agencies on Aging in the affected areas are coordinating with other agencies to answer local Elder Helpline calls during power outages (1-800-96-ELDER).  

Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) Veterans enrolled in VA Health Care in need of routine or urgent care services in the projected path of the storm can contact VA Health Connect, also known as the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center, at 1-877-741-3400. The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will close the following locations for in person and procedure appointments: C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center: Monday, September 26 through Thursday, Sept. 29. This closure extends to the Emergency Department. North Pinellas and St. Petersburg VA Clinics: Wednesday, Sept. 28 and Thursday, September 29. Sarasota, Bradenton, and Port Charlotte VA Clinics: Wednesday, September 28.    

Florida Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. communicated to all Superintendents and College Presidents that the DOE stands ready to assist if needed before, during, and after the storm. 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. As of 4 p.m. closures have been announced in 56 school districts, 23 Florida College System institutions and 10 State Universities. For a full list of closures, visit fldoe.org/storminfo.  

State University System of Florida Florida Gulf Coast University:  classes canceled Tuesday-Friday University of North Florida:  classes canceled Wednesday-Friday Florida International University:  classes canceled 5 pm Tuesday-Wednesday Florida Atlantic University:  classes canceled 5 pm Tuesday-Wednesday  

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Tolls  Tolls have now been suspended on roadways in Central Florida. The complete list of toll facilities include:  1.     SR 91 Turnpike Mainline from Osceola Parkway (MP249) north to I-75  2.     SR 417 – Southern Connector Extension, Central Florida Greeneway and Seminole Expressway  3.     SR429 – Western Beltway  4.     SR429 – Wekiva Parkway  5.     SR408 – Holland East-West Expressway  6.     SR528 – Beachline Expressway  7.     SR414 – John Land Apopka Expressway  8.     SR538 – Poinciana Parkway  9.     SR453  10.  SR551 – Goldenrod Road Extension  11.  I-4 Express  12.  Garcon Point Bridge in Santa Rosa County 13.  Spence Parkway and Mid-Bay Bridge in Okaloosa County 14.  Polk Parkway in Polk County 15.  Suncoast Parkway in Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus County 16.  Veterans Expressway, the I-4 Connector, and the Selmon Expressway in Hillsborough County 17.  Pinellas Bayway and Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Pinellas County 18.  Alligator Alley in Collier and Broward Counties Updated toll suspension information, including those west coast roadways whose tolls have already been suspended, can be found at fdot.gov/IanTollSuspension

Emergency Shoulder Use  Emergency Shoulder Use (ESU) has been implemented on the I-4 corridor to move people east. ESU is allowing motorists to use the left shoulder of I-4 from U.S. 41 to S.R. 417.  The extra lane of travel adds capacity to move higher volumes of traffic and helps to increase traffic flow.   A major benefit of ESU is that it keeps both directions of travel open. This allows us to get people out of the area, but still keep supplies and resources coming in.    The endpoint of the ESU has been strategically determined given the access to other major connections such as S.R. 429 and S.R. 417 or continue on I-4 in the regular lanes. 

Ports:   All ports currently have adequate fuel supplies and are staging appropriate measures to be well-positioned after the storm in order to quickly reinstate operations and keep fuel supplies moving.   Ports that are currently closed: Port Tampa Bay, Port of St. Petersburg Seaport Manatee, Port of Fort Pierce, Port of Palm Beach, and Port of Key West Ports that are open while preparing for storm impacts: Port Everglades, PortMiami, Port Fernandina, JAXPORT (closure expected Wednesday) Port Canaveral (closure at midnight Tuesday) Port of Pensacola (with restrictions), Port Panama City, and Port St. Joe 

Airports:   Current status is listed below. While some facilities have scheduled closures, individual airlines may decide to cease flights earlier than that.  Tampa International Airport will suspend operations at 5pm Tues Sept 27   St.Pete/Clearwater International Airport will close at 2pm Tues Sept 27  Sarasota Bradenton International Airport- Airport will close 8pm local Tuesday Sept. 27 through 8pm Thursday Sept. 29    Southwest Florida International Airport – All flight operations are cancelled at Southwest Florida International Airport for Wednesday, Sept.       28. Many flights have also been cancelled for Thursday.  Tallahassee International Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations  Pensacola International Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations  Punta Gorda Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations Orlando International Airport- Closing Wednesday, September 28 at 10:30 am Orlando Sanford International Airport- Passenger terminal closing at 5pm. Airport Facility closing at 11PM. Flights on Wednesday and Thursday are cancelled

Transit and Rail  HART suspending transit service in Zones A and B at 9 p.m. tonight, September 27  HART, Pasco, and LeeTRAN suspended fares   Transit agencies focused on life-sustaining trips   Amtrak service cancelled south of Jax September 27-29   Regional Rail (Florida Central, Florida Midland, Florida Northern and Port Manatee Railroads) will shut down operations beginning today, September 27 at midnight.   

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) The Florida Highway Patrol is assisting FDOT with limited Emergency Shoulder Use on Interstate 4 from the 3-mile marker in Hillsborough County to the 63-mile marker in Osceola County to increase traffic capacity for evacuating motorists. FHP has deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle team to augment traffic monitoring and traffic control for limited Emergency Shoulder Use. FHP reminds motorists to only use the shoulder when directed by law enforcement and highway signs and to use extreme caution when driving on the shoulder. FHP personnel, along with local first responders, continue to assist in evacuation efforts, including door-to-door notification of Cedar Key residents. More than 1,700 sworn FHP members are ready to assist with enhanced evacuation and response efforts. FHP is activating 12-hour Alpha, Bravo shifts for approximately 340 Troopers in Troop C (Tampa) and Troop F (Sarasota), Troop B (Gainesville) in response to Hurricane Ian. FHP has deployed troopers along major roadways to assist with traffic control and evacuation efforts. FHP has placed 330 Quick Reactionary Force troopers on standby, ready to move into affected areas quickly to provide immediate relief. FHP has strategically staged its fixed-wing aircraft to monitor traffic routes and to aid search and rescue and damage assessment efforts. FHP has placed its unmanned aerial vehicle teams on standby to assist in search and rescue and damage assessment efforts. FHP Regional Communications Centers are preparing to perform take-over services for other impacted FHP dispatch centers to ensure all state law enforcement officers continue to receive dispatch services. FHP is providing liaisons to affected county emergency operations centers. FHP encourages evacuating motorists to report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347). FLHSMV driver license and motor vehicle service center closures can be found here. FLHSMV has issued Emergency Order 092422, 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.  
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 15 FWC Special Operations Group officers from the Northwest Region are enroute to Orlando to rendezvous with Urban Search and Rescue Teams for pre-landfall briefings and preparation for insertion into the affected area following Hurricane Ian’s passing. Response teams from areas anticipated to be minimally affected by Hurricane Ian have been identified and are readying for deployment. Officers are preparing a variety of specialized equipment, including shallow draft boats, larger platform vessels, ATVs, airboats, and four-wheel drive vehicles to use in the response, and will likely stage Wednesday in safe locations, for immediate post-storm insertion. These assets do not include local FWC officers in potentially affected areas.  FWC Aviation Section has readied all appropriate aircraft for deployment for EOC aerial assistance, reconnaissance, and post-storm damage assessments. FWC is directing the public to myfwc.com/notices/ for information about wildlife management areas, fish management areas, shooting ranges and FWC office closures due to the forecasted effects of Hurricane Ian.   

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) DEO has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Inquiries may also be emailed to [email protected]. DEO hosts an Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 private-sector call each day at 1:30 p.m., Eastern Time, at 888-585-9008. The participant code to join the call is 753 329 128. DEO is working with its private-sector partners to provide updates on FloridaDisaster.biz related to supply chain concerns, inventory storages of emergency supplies, and general concerns and priorities of the business community. Partners including Walmart and Publix have indicated that they are constantly bringing additional supplies into the state to restock inventory. DEO is updating www.FloridaDisaster.biz with real-time information for business owners to prepare their businesses, families, and employees for Hurricane Ian. Private-sector partner, Uber, is offering round-trip rides to and from Southwest Florida shelter locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, and Pasco counties listed at www.FloridaDisaster.org. Riders can enter promotional code IANRELIEF in the app to redeem a free round-trip up to $30 each way. Rides must be requested to or from any state-approved evacuation shelter in Florida. Homeowner Assistance Fund in-person Customer Assistance Centers closed today, September 27, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. Applicants in need of assistance may contact the HAF Customer Assistance Center at 833-987-8997. DEO is working with business, industry, and economic development partners to distribute informative flyers about disaster preparation, response, and recovery. DEO has alerted the statewide Community Action Agency (CAA) Network to initiate disaster preparedness activities following the Emergency Order. DEO will release $1.4 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistant Program (LIHEAP) set-aside emergency funding for use by LIHEAP providers across the state to support preparedness activities. DEO’s Rebuild Florida team is mobilizing construction teams to secure construction sites on in-progress Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma construction projects. DEO is preparing to administer the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program. DEO is working with the Local Workforce Development Boards in the impacted areas to administer the Dislocated Worker Grant Program and provide mobile services, if required, as well as monitor office closures.   Career centers in the following counties may experience temporary closures following county closure announcements:
    CareerSource Northeast Florida CareerSource North Central Florida CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion CareerSource Flagler Volusia CareerSource Central Florida CareerSource Brevard CareerSource Pinellas CareerSource Tampa Bay CareerSource Pasco Hernando CareerSource Polk CareerSource Suncoast CareerSource Research Coast CareerSource Palm Beach County CareerSource Southwest Florida    

VISIT FLORIDA VISIT FLORIDA has activated its Emergency Accommodations Module on Expedia to provide real-time hotel availability and lodging resources for impacted Floridians and visitors.  

Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) Florida Housing has ensured that all current listings are up to date in the event that families need to quickly relocate at www.FloridaHousingSearch.org. Each SHIP office has an adopted disaster strategy that allows for assistance in the immediate aftermath of a declared disaster. Strategies may include temporary relocation and rental assistance, debris removal and short-term repairs to prevent further damage to the structure or to allow for occupancy until further repairs are made.

Florida Lottery  The Lottery’s Orlando District Office will be closed to employees and the public beginning Wednesday, September 28 until further notice. The Lottery’s Tampa and Fort Myers District Offices remain closed to employees and the public until further notice. Players are encouraged to visit www.flalottery.com for the most up-to-date information regarding Lottery office closures.  

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) DBPR has published an emergency page at http://myfloridalicense.com/emergency for the current status of DBPR office locations, executive orders, board meeting updates, and other resources related to Hurricane Ian. DBPR’s Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics is coordinating with wholesale distributors of prescription drugs and medical gases to provide information and support relating to exceptions for the emergency distribution of these critical supplies where needed.   

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) National Estuarine Research Reserve and Aquatic Preserve closures can be found at https://floridadep.gov/rcp/aquatic-preserve. Following the issuance of the Governor’s Executive Order, DEP issued an Emergency Final Order waiving permitting requirements for the storage and processing of solid waste, including storm debris. DEP has also issued an Emergency Final Order to expedite necessary repair, replacement and restoration of structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works and other systems damaged by the storm. Inspectors completed pre-storm beach surveys in all shoreline counties. Hazardous Area Response Teams are preparing for potential assessment and deployment to impacted areas. All significant Hazardous Waste facilities within the affected counties have been contacted to ensure all pre-storm landfall preparations are being made. Florida state park closures can be found at www.floridastateparks.org/StormUpdates. Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at impacted parks will be notified of their reservation status. WaterTracker is active, DEP’s online portal for wastewater and drinking water facilities to report their operational status.       

Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) The Telecommunications Division is working with telecom partners to ensure that the state’s communications networks have redundancies and remain operations for first responders to respond to Floridians during the storm. State buildings in the following 25 counties are closed for Wednesday, September 28, 2022: Alachua Bradford Brevard Broward Charlotte Citrus Clay Collier DeSoto Duval Flagler Glades Hardee Hendry Hernando Highlands Hillsborough Indian River Lake Lee Levy Manatee Marion Martin Monroe Okeechobee Orange Osceola Palm Beach Pasco Pinellas Polk Putnam Sarasota Seminole St. Johns St. Lucie Sumter      Volusia An updated list of state building closures can be found here. Florida DMS Emergency Information Hotline is 888-336-7345.  

Florida Department of Revenue Florida’s temporary licensing program, which allows exporters, petroleum carriers, and importers to request a temporary license during a disaster or declared state of emergency, has been activated. Applicants are not required to submit a fee, secure bonding, or undergo a background check if they apply for and receive a temporary license.​  

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) DJJ facilities in the projected impacted areas have finalized storm preparations including having generators in the event of loss of power, and ensuring food, medicine, and emergency supplies are stocked and ready.
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