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Marco Rubio urging feds get proactive with Hurricane Michael aid

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is making pre-emptive requests to several federal agencies, asking for help while Hurricane Michael moves through the state.

Michael is currently a Category 4 storm. The Florida Panhandle is already feeling its effects as it moves in from the Gulf Coast.

Rubio sent three separate letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig.

Rubio’s is asking for the AG’s office to “work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to prepare to investigate and prosecute illegal activity related to Hurricane Michael and its aftermath.

“Law enforcement professionals in Florida have a strong history of working together in post-disaster recovery and response efforts, and I have complete confidence that they will meet the challenges this storm may bring. As such, I ask the department to promptly respond to requests raised by state and local law enforcement for assistance related to the storm. “

He notes the occurrence of “identity theft, fraudulent insurance claims, fraudulent solicitations of charitable donations, property theft, price gouging, unscrupulous contractors, and looting” following significant storms.

“Special attention must be paid to protect the hundreds of thousands of seniors that call Florida home, and who are often targeted and scammed in these situations,” Rubio added.

To Azar and HHS, Rubio asks that the agency continues “to coordinate with state and local governments to ensure they are prepared and able to quickly respond to Floridians once Michael passes. As requested with previous storms, I would appreciate updates about ongoing coordination with health care providers, including hospitals, inpatient nursing facilities, dialysis centers, and home health providers.”

Rubio also referenced the deaths of 12 seniors at a Hollywood Hills nursing home following Hurricane Irma, asking what steps have been taken to prevent future tragedies.

Finally, to IRS Commissioner Rettig, Rubio asks the agency to “preapprove relief to taxpayers residing in areas that are going to be impacted by the storm. Many families will need to draw from their retirement accounts for immediate and necessary financial assistance to prepare for and recover from this storm.”

As the Florida Panhandle deals with one of the strongest storms in the area’s history, state officials are clearly noting the need for federal help. Gov. Rick Scott has already asked President Donald Trump for federal assistance.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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