Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida using few available National Guard troops for oil spill

WASHINGTON — Two months after President Barack Obama authorized 2,500 National Guard troops in Florida to combat the oil disaster, only 100 are being used.

The lack of requests for the troops has frustrated the White House, which has come under withering criticism about its response to the crisis.

"Everything is in place to put troops on the target," says Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, director of public affairs for the Florida National Guard. "If we get the mission we'll be there."

But the guard has not received many missions. Neither Escambia nor Okaloosa counties, among the hardest hit, has requested any troops.

"Certainly at this point, everything has been manageable," says Sonya Daniel, public information manager for Escambia County. "I'm not familiar where we would use the National Guard."

The largest contingent of troops being used are patrolling the beaches of Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties for crude oil.

Bay County is happy to have the help. "Certainly the more bodies we have on the beach, the better," said county spokeswoman Valerie Lovett. "We want to take advantage of all the resources we have available to us, and I think that has been a good move on our part."

Escambia County beach patrols are being handled by subcontractors with engineering and environmental expertise, Daniel said.

The National Guard also has engineers, and officials said training the troops to patrol the beaches of Bay County took only two days. Because the National Guard was authorized by the president, the federal government pays for everything, although Little said BP will eventually pay the bill.

Daniel said Escambia County awarded the contracts before the president authorized the National Guard use. The troops were authorized on May 3. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the contracting fees should be filed for reimbursement with BP.

In Okaloosa County, Chief of Emergency Management Randy McDaniel said that plenty of people are patrolling the beaches, including BP cleanup crews, county beach safety personnel and volunteers.

Okaloosa made national news when the county commission voted unanimously that its emergency managers had the ability to overrule federal emergency managers.

Prominent Republican politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. George LeMieux and Senate hopeful Marco Rubio have sharply criticized Obama's handling of the gulf crisis. Gov. Charlie Crist has been less critical.

Obama seemed to jab back at his GOP critics in a June 15 Oval Office address when he urged gulf-state governors to activate the troops as soon as possible.

Escambia and Okaloosa counties have a National Guard liaison advising them on the abilities of the troops, and both counties indicated that they are aware that they could request National Guard troops.

"We won't just show up unless there's a mission," said Tittle.

Florida using few available National Guard troops for oil spill 07/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.