Gov. Rick Scott tried to assure Floridians facing gas shortages around the state that the declining supplies are temporary as petroleum marketing firms, with the aide of state emergency managers, are working to replace fuel before Irma arrives.
“We’re moving as much fuel through the system as fast as possible,″ Scott said at a news conference late Wednesday. He said he has asked the governors of Alabama and Georgia to rescind weight and driver restrictions for tanker trucks, as he has done, to try to accelerate the replenishment throughout the state.
“The bottleneck is not that we don’t have enough fuel it’s being able to get the trucks refueled and getting them back into the stations,″ he said.
But Scott also urged Floridians to “only take what you need” and he recommended using the Gas Buddy app to help locate vendors who still had supplies.
Scott said he spoke Wednesday afternoon with both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence who have “have offered the full resources of the federal government.”
Evacuations accelerated Wednesday as more than 100,000 Miami-Dade residentswere ordered to leave their homes on barrier islands and low-lying mainland areas Thursday in preparation for Hurricane Irma
Scott emphasized that the lower keys hospital had been evacuated Wednesday, with the help of a C130 aircraft offered by the North Carolina National Guard, and 25,000 people have already streamed northward, away from the first winds of Irma. The mandatory evacuation for all Keys residents will begin Thursday morning and, Scott said, the state is prepared to assist anyone who does not have a way to get out.
The governor said that Broward County has issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents living in flood-prone regions. Mercy Hospital in Miami is also being evacuated, he said.
The states of Ohio, Alaska, North Dakota and North Carolina have responded with resources and personnel, Scott said, and he urged anyone who does not have a way out to call 1-800-955-5504 for assistance.
“Our roads remain clear and there are no major problems on our roads,″ Scott said, as he urged people to heed warnings from local emergency operations managers and leave if they are ordered to evacuate.
“There is absolutely no reason for anyone not to evacuate,″ he said.
The cost of the storm is already tolling. Emergency operators reported at a closed-door meeting, to which reporters are not given access, that 14 of 33 state agencies have already reported costs totaling $14.3 million.
Here’s a summary of the pre-storm response from the Florida Division of Emergency Management:
- Broward County has issued voluntary evacuations of mobile homes and low-lying areas beginning today.
- Collier County has issued voluntary evacuations of Marco Island beginning today.
- Monroe County has issued mandatory evacuations for visitors beginning this morning. Mandatory evacuations for residents will begin this evening.
- Individuals with special needs started being evacuated from Miami-Dade County this morning.
- Additional evacuations are expected throughout the state. All Floridians should pay close attention to local alerts and follow the directions of local officials.
- To find available shelters by county, visit floridadisaster.org/shelters
- Governor Scott has activated a total of 1,000 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to support with planning, logistics and operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These members are stationing across the state and actively assisting with preparation efforts.
- At the direction of Governor Scott, all remaining 6,000 National Guard members will be reporting for duty no later than Friday morning. Additional guard members will continue to be activated this week as needed.
- The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the North Carolina National Guard to utilize air assets to assist with ongoing evacuations in the Florida Keys.
- The Florida National Guard has 1,000 high water vehicles, 13 helicopters, 17 boats and more than 700 generators on standby.
- The Florida National Guard is coordinating with the National Guard Bureau to identify approximately 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters, and air evacuation crews that are standing by for Hurricane Irma support, if needed.
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty teams with supporting resources such as trucks, coastal and river patrol boats, an ATV and two shallow draft boats are preparing for evacuation support, search and rescue missions, or any additional needs.
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and seven logistics and planning teams. FDLE has also secured additional fuel for law enforcement.
- The division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is monitoring road and traffic conditions to ensure roadways are clear and working with the Division of Emergency Management to ensure consistent messaging is provided statewide.
- The division of Motorist Services has its Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) mobiles on standby and will deploy them to impacted areas as needed.
TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC WORKS
- Governor Scott directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to suspend tolls across the entire State of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Tolls will be suspended for the duration of the storm’s impacts to Florida.
- Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes is available at www.FL511.com
- The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is suspending construction contractor work and preparing key evacuation routes for possible shoulder use
- FDOT is coordinating with county emergency operations centers directly to coordinate any necessary response actions, including activating traffic counters, providing local evacuation support and providing maintenance of traffic and other assistance.
- The state is monitoring conditions at all airports and seaports. As of now, there are no closed airports or seaports. Key West International Airport is expected to close Wednesday evening.
- Governor Scott has rescinded all weight and driver restrictions for highways so water, food, fuel and emergency supplies can be quickly brought to Florida.
- While the state is working with retail partners to fill grocery store shelves with water and other emergency resources as quickly as possible, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.
- The state is staging mass care supplies such as meals, shelter support trailers and water at the State Logistic Response Center in Orlando for deployments as needed.
- Food Safety Response Teams are beginning to be placed on standby for recovery assessments.
- The state is also establishing local points of contact with mass care organizations and volunteer agencies, including working with the American Red Cross to coordinate sheltering and feeding operations. The American Red Cross has also established a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO) in Orlando.
- The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will release September Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to current recipients who have not yet received them to assist with Hurricane Irma preparations.
- The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) operates six skilled nursing facilities and one assisted living facility. All state veterans’ homes are currently operational.
- The State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Broward County and State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Volusia County will be installing hurricane shutters throughout the next day.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has closed the Key West and Key Largo Community Based Outpatient Clinics Wednesday, September 6 through Friday, September 8.
- Volunteer Florida is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. Floridians who would like to volunteer can register HERE.
- Volunteer Florida has 43 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) on standby to deploy to areas of need. Many of these teams have begun to work in local call centers and prepare for sheltering assistance.
- American Red Cross teams are arriving into Orlando for staging with 26 tractor trailers at the State Logistics Response Center, 150 trailers at the State Farmers Market, and 100 emergency response vehicles in North Florida. They are also sending 1,000 volunteers.
- The Salvation Army is on standby with 32 cooking units already in Florida and additional supplies awaiting deployment from neighboring states.
- The Florida Baptist Convention has 35 kitchens on standby ready to feed 35,000 meals a day.
STATE OFFICE CLOSURES
- Governor Rick Scott directed state offices to close in all 67 Florida counties this Friday in preparation for Hurricane Irma.
- State offices in Monroe county are closed until further notice. Beginning tomorrow, state offices in Miami-Dade, Broward and Lee Counties will be closed. Prior to Friday’s statewide closures, state office closures will follow the direction of county officials and will be announced as they are determined.
- In partnership with the American Red Cross, salaried, non-essential state employees can receive expedited volunteer certifications for disaster services so that they may assist in or operate shelters in response to Hurricane Irma impacts and preparation. Florida law allows Governor Scott to grant full-time, salaried state employees up to 15 days of administrative leave for emergency volunteer efforts through the American Red Cross. Employees can register HERE. So far, more than 2,000 Floridians have signed up to volunteer.
- The Florida Department of Education is in contact with school districts, state colleges and universities as all continue to monitor Irma and her path. School closures are available atwww.fldoe.org/irma.
- Districts are preparing in the case that their facilities are needed for shelters. Colleges are making emergency preparations on their campuses and working with students who may need assistance with relocation.
K-12 Public Schools Closures
- Brevard County (Thursday, Friday)
- Broward County (Thursday, Friday)
- Charlotte County (Thursday, Friday)
- Collier County (Thursday, Friday)
- DeSoto County (Thursday, Friday)
- Florida Atlantic University Lab School (Thursday, Friday)
- Glades County (Thursday, Friday)
- Hardee County (Monday, Tuesday)
- Hendry County (Thursday, Friday)
- Hernando County (Thursday, Friday)
- Highlands County (Friday, Monday)
- Hillsborough County (Thursday, Friday)
- Indian River County (Thursday, Friday)
- Lee County (Thursday, Friday)
- Manatee County (Friday)
- Marion County will be (Thursday, Friday, Monday)
- Martin County (Thursday, Friday)
- Miami-Dade County (Thursday, Friday)
- Monroe County (Wednesday until further notice)
- Okeechobee County (Thursday, Friday)
- Palm Beach County (Thursday, Friday)
- Pasco County (Friday)
- Polk County (Friday)
- Sarasota (Friday)
- School for the Deaf and Blind (Thursday, Friday)
- St. Lucie County (Thursday, Friday)
- Volusia County (Friday, Monday, Cancelled ACT test administrations scheduled for Saturday, September 9, at area high schools.)
- Broward College (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Daytona State College (Thursday, Friday)
- Florida Keys Community College (Wednesday until further notice)
- Florida SouthWestern State College (Thursday, Friday)
- Miami Dade College (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Palm Beach State College (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- St. Petersburg College (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Florida Atlantic University (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Florida Gulf Coast University (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Florida International University (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Indian River State College (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Palm Beach State College (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- University of Central Florida (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday)
BUSINESS, INDUSTRY, & ECONOMIC STABILIZATION
- The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) created an event in the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FLVBEOC) for Hurricane Irma and are currently updating with up-to-date storm information, situation reports and resources for the business community. FLVBEOC is available at www.flvbeoc.org.
- The state has activated the Private Sector Hotline at 850-815-4925. The hotline is available for business inquiries about the storm, preparedness information and post-impact information.
- The state is conducting daily Private Sector conference calls to provide situational awareness and to address concerns of private sector partners.
- DEO is continuing to coordinate with CareerSource Florida, local workforce boards, and other public-private partners.
ELECTRIC & NATURAL GAS UTILITIES (Public Service Commission)
- Utility providers are working on staging and asset allocation so they can return power as quickly as possible following the storm and are prepared to start reporting outage and restoral information when notified to begin.
- The state is monitoring the power grid for sufficient power and the natural gas infrastructure for any damages that can cause a loss of service to power plants.
- The state is coordinating with utilities to identify potential fuel, equipment or resource needs.
- Memos for several gas companies to have access to their facilities have been issued.
- VISIT FLORIDA remains in contact with all destination marketing partners and emergency contacts and has activated the Homepage Banner and Florida Now page onvisitflorida.com to advise consumers.
- Through VISIT FLORIDA’s partnership with Expedia, Expedia.com/Florida has been activated to provide accommodations availability information for visitors, residents and first responders.
- The Department of Financial Services and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has activated its internal Incident Management Team (IMT) for coordination of activities related to Hurricane Irma and is preparing to respond to deployments as needed, and prepared to order property insurers to submit claims information from Hurricane Irma.
- Additionally, in response to the Governor’s Office Executive Order, OIR has notified all entities writing health insurance in the state of their statutory obligation to allow for early prescription refills. OIR is also coordinating with the Agency for Healthcare Administration and Department of Health.
- Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is encouraging all Floridians to keep all insurance and banking information in one, easily-accessible place. Consumers can download a copy of the Department’s free Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit. The Toolkit serves as a one-stop shop for all finance, emergency and insurance contact information. Download and complete the toolkit today.
- Consumers with questions about their policies and those who need help filing a claim should call the CFO’s free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236.
- OIR has updated its “Hurricane Season Resources” webpage, which contains links to information provided by the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program, and contact information for Florida’s property insurers.
- The state remains in contact with fuel industry partners and will continue to monitor fuel assistance requests. Florida is moving as much fuel through the system as fast as possible.
- The state is prepared to survey fuel supply along evacuation routes and is coordinating emergency fuel resupply accordingly.
- Emergency fuel contractors have secured 1.5 million gallons of fuel for initial delivery and confirmed that additional fuel supply is on standby for future deliveries.
- While the state is working with fuel partners to bring fuel to communities as quickly as possible, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND MEDICAL
- Under a State of Emergency, individuals are able to refill prescriptions early. All health insurers, managed care organizations, and other entities that are licensed by the Office of Insurance Regulation and provide prescription medication coverage as part of a policy are required to waive time restrictions on prescription medication refills.
- The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is coordinating with hospitals and healthcare facilities across Florida on evacuation needs.
- DOH is preparing to set up and coordinate staffing for special needs shelters.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has Disaster Medical Assistance Teams on standby for Florida. These rapid response teams aid in the provision of medical care to those who need it after the storm.
- The Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ regional offices have contacted providers and waiver support coordinators to ensure APD customers have a hurricane plan in place and that communities for people with developmental disabilities are preparing for the storm.
- The state has contacted telecommunications partners to activate protective action plans and procedures for Central Offices, tower sites, mobile response units and any other critical infrastructure.
- Comcast will be opening more than 137,000 free Xfinity WiFi hotspots throughout the state for individuals in need, including non-Xfinity customers, to help residents and emergency personnel stay connected if Hurricane Irma makes anticipated landfall in Florida. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, which are located both indoors and outdoors in places such as shopping districts, parks and businesses, please visit Xfinity.com/wifi.
- Telecommunications Partners are monitoring fuel levels for generators and back-up power supply for cell towers.
- The state is drafting 24-hour staffing schedules and all Telecommunications remain on standby to respond if required. Additional resources are being identified and preparing for potential deployment.
- At this point, there are no out of ordinary reports of any major outages.
- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff is currently conducting baseline shoreline assessments to help evaluate beach impacts. DEP is also assisting in identifying and fortifying vulnerable areas of shoreline.
- DEP is reaching out to drinking, wastewater and hazardous waste facilities to help ensure preparation steps are being taken.
- State parks in the Florida Keys are currently being evacuated and there is currently one state park closure at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Additional park closures in Monroe County are expected today.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has begun a pre-storm drawdown that includes water releases from Lake Okeechobee. The Corps anticipates the releases will last a short time, with future water management decisions dependent on the water level in the lake after the storm passes.
- Routine inspections of the Herbert Hoover Dike are taking place and additional inspections will begin once the lake approaches 17 feet. The lake level is currently at 13.68 feet.
- The South Florida Water Management District has begun lowering water levels in canals and moving as much water as possible to tide and south through flood control structures throughout its flood control system in preparation for the storm.
StateEmergency Operations Center/ Contact Information:
- The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to level one, which is a full-scale, 24-hours-a-day activation.
- The Florida Emergency Information Line has been activated and is available 24/7 for families and victors at 1-800-342-3557. The media line is 850-921-0217.
- Follow @FLSert or @FLGovScott on Twitter for live updates on Hurricane Irma.
- Visit http://www.floridadisaster.org to find information on shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes.
- On Monday, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 17-235 declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida.
- On Tuesday, Governor Scott requested, and President Donald Trump approved, a pre-landfall emergency declaration for the State of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma which provided important preparation resources and assistance from the federal government.