Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 6 of 61 - Florida Politics

Power outage in Volusia approaches 80%; 826,000 statewide and rising

Volusia County has gone almost entirely dark, and Flagler and Indian River counties are not far behind, because of Hurricane Matthew.

The latest power outage reports provided by Gov. Rick Scott‘s office show 78 percent of power customers in Volusia were without electricity as of noon, while 69 percent of Flagler customers, 67 percent of Indian River customers, and 61 percent of Brevard County customers were in the dark.

Statewide, more than 826,000 power customers had no electricity at noon. And that does not count what will happen in Jacksonville when Matthew, as expected, gets that far in a couple of hours. At noon, the power grid in Duval County, the most populated in Matthew’s assault, was holding up pretty well.

That statewide total is heavily filled with people from Volusia and Brevard: 218,000 customers in Volusia and 187,000 in Brevard were without power. Elsewhere, more than 50,000 customers were without power in each of Indian River and St. Lucie counties; more than 40,000 each in Martin, Orange, Palm Beach, and Seminole counties; 39,000 in Flagler; and 28,000 in St. Johns. In Martin, that represents 48 percent of the customer base; in St. Johns, 34 percent; and in Seminole, 20 percent. Fewer than one in 15 customers had lost power in either Orange or Palm Beach counties.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has mobilized 1,770 line workers and vegetation management personnel who are standing by to respond to outages, according to a press release from the Florida Municipal Electric Association. Crews have been brought in from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and across Florida.

“Coordination and cooperation is critical in times like these. We are happy to lend a helping hand wherever needed and greatly appreciate the support of all our mutual aid partners here in Florida and from all over the United States who have come to help us, as well,” FMEA Executive Director Barry Moline stated in the release.

More than half of Brevard, Volusia residents without power due to Hurricane Matthew

More than a half-million customers statewide including most in Brevard and Volusia counties have lost power due to Hurricane Matthew, the office of Gov. Rick Scott reported Friday morning.

The hardest hit areas, as expected, are the coastal counties from Martin through Flagler, with more power outages expected in coming hours as Matthew lurches northward toward Jacksonville. Statewide, 593,875 customers were without power at 9 a.m. Friday, mostly in those coastal counties, according to the governor’s office.

In Brevard, more than 164,000 customers, 54 percent of the county, had no power at 9 a.m., according to the governor’s report. In Volusia, 141,000 electricity customers had no power at 9 a.m., representing 51 percent of the county’s electrical base.

Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Flagler counties each had between 14,000 and 57,000 customers without power, representing between 26 and 47 percent of the base in each of those counties. In Palm Beach County, 47,000 people were without power, but that represents just 6 percent of that county’s power customers. Miami-Dade and Broward counties each were reporting fewer than 10,000 customers without power, tiny fractions of those counties’ bases.

St. Johns, next in line with Flagler for Matthew’s wrath, had 4,600 customers without power at 9 a.m., about 5 percent of the county.

Inland, Seminole and Orange counties have been the hardest hit so far, each with more than 25,000 customers without electricity. In Seminole that represents 12 percent of the base, and in Orange, 5 percent.

Smaller outages, of just over 1,000 to a few thousand customers, also have been reported in Okeechobee, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Pinellas counties.

Rick Scott hurricane

Concerns over hurricane now turn to Jacksonville, Rick Scott says

All eyes are now on Jacksonville as Hurricane Matthew creeps its way up Florida’s Atlantic coast, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday morning.

This is still a 120 mph storm, and we are very concerned about storm surge,” Scott said during a briefing at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

He was surrounded by state Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, and National Guard troops. 

“It still has time to make a direct hit,” Scott said. “We are very concerned about Jacksonville; there’s a potential for significant flooding there.”

“The storm has only passed half our state,” he said. “This is not over.”

But there were no reports of Florida deaths from the storm, Scott said, which proves “the evacuations worked.”

Over 22,000 people now are in 145 shelters across Florida, and there are no “major road issues,” including the interstates. Toll suspensions will remain in effect for 24 hours after the storm passes an individual county.

The state also has five days’ worth of fuel, “even if all the ports temporarily close,” Scott said.

About 600,000 homes were without power Friday morning, many in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

“It’s really important we get the power on as quickly as possible,” said Scott, who was dogged about electricity restoration in Tallahassee after Hurricane Hermine last month. “Power saves lives.”

The state is prepared to house as many as 1,000 out-of-state utility workers at Camp Blanding near Starke.

As the National Guard finishes search and recovery efforts in South Florida, Scott said he will send them north. “Our goal is to keep solving problems,” the governor said.

“It could be the worst part of this is yet to come,” he added, referring to Duval and Nassau counties.

In a related issue, the Republican governor said he hadn’t had a change of heart on extending the state’s voter registration deadline, which is still next Tuesday.

When asked whether his decision was swayed by his support of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Scott said he was “focused on a storm.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton‘s campaign on Thursday had called for the extension because of the storm affecting the state this weekend. Scott chairs the pro-Trump super PAC.

“I’m more concerned we don’t lose a life,” Scott said.

Rick Scott won’t extend voter registration deadline

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday night said the state’s deadline next Tuesday to register to vote is staying put.

“I’m not going to extend it,” Scott told reporters at a Hurricane Matthew briefing in the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

“Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” he said. “On top of that, we’ve got lots of opportunities to vote: Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had asked Florida election officials to extend the deadline because of the storm’s potential to trip up stragglers trying to get on the voting rolls.

CNN reported Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said, “We are hoping and expecting that officials in Florida will adapt deadlines to account for the storm.”

“Our hope would be that a little bit more time will be given for people who were expecting to be able to get registered before the election,” Mook said.

The hurricane has caused the South Carolina Election Commission to extend that state’s registration deadline, which was Saturday, according to The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Mailed voter registration forms postmarked as late as Oct. 11 now will be accepted, the newspaper reported.

Palmetto State residents intending to register in person still must do so by Saturday, it added, but noted many county and state offices will be closed by the storm.

Daniel A. Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, tweeted later Thursday night there was a swell of down-to-the-wire registrations four years ago.

“Just to be clear, @FLGovScott: in Florida in 2012, 86k citizens registered in final 8 days; 50k registered in final 5 days (Oct. 4-8, 2012),” he wrote.

hurricane evacuation

Rick Scott on hurricane: ‘This is going to kill people’

As he has all week, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday continued to stress the potential for peril brought by Hurricane Matthew.

“If you think someone is making a bad decision (by not evacuating), call them,” he said during an early morning briefing at the state’s Emergency Operations Center. “Don’t let people try to (stay) in an evacuation area. Do it now; don’t wait.”

Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it cut through Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

Scott also announced he is activating an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to help with hurricane response and recovery, for a total of 2,500 members now active. There are another 4,000 ready to be deployed if needed, he said.

About 1.5 million Floridians are currently under evacuation orders, the governor’s office said in a separate statement.

Leaving now, Scott added, “could save your life, your friend’s life, your family member’s life … Unfortunately, this is going to kill people.”

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said 48 shelters set up in schools already are providing for just over 3,000 people, mostly in coastal counties. Another 13 special needs shelters are currently housing 31 people.

These shelters are in areas where evacuations — either mandatory or voluntary — are underway.

The storm is forecast to near the Florida coast starting Thursday night, potentially as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. Any slight deviation could mean landfall or it heading farther out to sea.

Either way, forecasters say it will come close enough to wreak havoc along the lower part of the East Coast, dumping up to 15 inches in rain in some spots. Storm surge of 5 feet to 8 feet was expected along the coast from central Florida into Georgia.

“There are no excuses,” Scott said Thursday morning. “If you’re reluctant to evacuate, just think of all the people this storm has already killed. You or your family could be among (them) if you don’t take this seriously.”

— For shelter information in Florida, including for those with special needs, click here.

— For travel information, including evacuation routes, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.

Rick Scott: ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst’

Gov. Rick Scott in a Wednesday news briefing on Hurricane Matthew told Floridians that “protecting life is our No. 1 priority.”

“If Matthew directly impacts Florida, there will be massive destruction, the likes of which we have not seen in years,” he said at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “This is a deadly storm approaching our state.”

The governor, who has declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties, said officials “are preparing for the worst, we’re hoping for the best, and we’re not taking any chances.”

He stressed that residents in low-lying and vulnerable coastal areas should leave their homes: “It’s never too early to evacuate.”

Florida canceled classes along its Atlantic coastline and theme parks kept a watchful eye as Matthew picked up speed heading to the state’s east coast.

Officials in central Florida’s Brevard County are ordering residents on barrier islands and in flood-prone areas to evacuate in advance of the powerful hurricane. Residents who live in mobile and manufactured homes also are being ordered to leave.

A dangerous Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph, Matthew was bearing down on the southern Bahamas early Wednesday and expected to be very near Florida’s Atlantic coast by Thursday evening. Already the hurricane was spreading high winds, heavy rain and a dangerous storm surge ahead of it as it neared the Bahamas.

“Regardless of whether there is a direct hit or not, the impacts will be devastating,” Scott said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Matthew — recently a Category 4 storm and at one brief point a fierce Category 5 — will remain a powerful storm at least through Thursday night. It added that while maximum winds decreased slightly in recent hours, the fluctuation in intensity was expected and some slight strengthening is forecast in coming days.

Officials hope to avoid a repeat of Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina, which caused major damage to South Florida in 2005, and Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, leveled much of the city of Homestead in 1992.

Government officials — including Scott — are worried about complacency, especially in South Florida, which hasn’t seen a major hurricane in 11 years.

“I cannot emphasize enough that everybody in our state should prepare now,” Scott said. “Having a plan in place could mean the difference between life and death.”

The state’s website for creating a hurricane preparedness plan is here.

— The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.

Rick Scott urges people to get ready for Matthew now; leave now if you’re already planning to evacuate

With projections now showing an increased chance monster Hurricane Matthew might hit Florida’s Atlantic coast, Gov. Rick Scott took to The Weather Channel Tuesday afternoon to urge residents to prepare now and to leave now if they’re planning to evacuate regardless.

The storm, after devastating Haiti, still is two or more days away if it hits Florida at all, according to the latest models, but its threat has grown and Scott said the worst must be assumed for preparations.

“Just get ready,” he advised. “You don’t know what is going to happen. Do not wait.”

The National Hurricane Center’s latest projections show the most likely path of Hurricane Matthew just skirting Florida’s Atlantic coast Thursday or early Friday, but the cone of uncertainty now extends inland well beyond Orlando. By Thursday it could have sustained winds in the range of 115-130 mph, making it a powerful Category 3 storm. Rainfall along the coast could be as much as eight inches. Advisories have been issued from Broward County through Brevard County, with the prospect that Florida’s First Coast also could receive advisories soon.

Scott said the state and all counties are now in full storm preparation mode and the challenge now is to get citizens to do the same. He urged people to pay attention to local news and The Weather Channel and follow their advice.

He said decisions on mandatory evacuations would be made county-by-county as needed. But he urged people that if they’re planning to leave no matter what, to do it as soon as possible and beat the rush.

Shelters are opening in the western sides of all East Coast counties, and officials are trying to reach out to elderly and disabled residents to give them early assistance. He said pet shelters and other facilities also are being arranged. “We tried hard to think through every reason people don’t evacuate and tried to address it,” Scott said.

hurricane preparedness

Hurricane Matthew still may threaten Sunshine State

Gov. Rick Scott continued to warn state residents that Hurricane Matthew, though not currently targeting Florida, is “a very dangerous storm and life threatening.”

The storm, which has been fluctuating between a Category 4 and Category 5 hurricane, on Sunday morning was tracking westerly at 5 mph with sustained winds of 140 mph.

The National Weather Service said “it is too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts from Matthew in Florida.”

“We haven’t seen a storm of this magnitude approach our state in a very long time,” Scott said in a statement. “We know how fast the track of a storm can change, and I urge everyone in Florida to prepare this weekend for any impacts this storm may bring.

“Even if it does not directly hit our state, we will likely see strong winds, rip currents, and beach erosion all along the east coast of our state,” he added. “I will continue to monitor this storm throughout the weekend to ensure Florida is prepared and ready to respond. If you don’t have a plan, please visit so that you and your family can get prepared.”

Matthew swirled across the Caribbean Sunday toward Haiti and Jamaica, where residents frantically stocked up on emergency supplies and authorities urged people to evacuate threatened areas.

The latest projections show its center likely to strike the southwestern tip of Haiti on Monday. A hurricane warning has been issued for the impoverished country which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Deforestation has greatly increased the potential for devastating floods and landslides on Haiti and the country’s ramshackle homes and buildings are vulnerable to storms.

After passing Jamaica and Haiti, Matthew is expected to reach Cuba late Monday, potentially making a direct hit on the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay. Authorities there said they were evacuating non-essential personnel, including about 700 family members of those serving there.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

AFP-Florida down on $85 million incentives plan

Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL) is again denouncing Gov. Rick Scott for his latest plan to fund what they call “corporate welfare.”

“Here we go again,” said AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson in a statement.

On Thursday, Scott said he would ask lawmakers for $85 million in 2016-17 for Enterprise Florida for business incentives. The governor also said he plans to push legislation to restructure the public-private jobs organization.

Last session, the agency’s proposed $250 million incentives fund failed to gain support.

Enterprise Florida has proven to be a failure at all levels,” Hudson added, referring to state’s public-private economic development organization. “They were supposed to be a partnership between taxpayers and the private sector, but the program resulted in funds coming almost exclusively from taxpayer dollars.”

“They promised to help create jobs, but have failed by coming up short of their job creation goals by nearly half and have ultimately yielded a negative return on investment for taxpayers,” he said. “EFI was supposed to serve small businesses, but the truth is that they have mostly served well-connected insiders to prop up private companies on the backs of Florida taxpayers.

“The legislators that stood against this corporate welfare slush fund this year did the right thing by not expanding this failed program,” Hudson said. “Lawmakers should be finding ways to cut spending, not take away valuable resources that would better serve Florida families.”

Zika funding ‘all about pregnant women,’ Rick Scott says

Sounding like a candidate for higher office, Florida Gov. Rick Scott Thursday rapped Congress for dithering before finally OK’ing $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus.

“We repeatedly called for months to get something done,” the Naples Republican said on a conference call. “This is all about pregnant women and making sure they have healthy babies.”

The Zika virus can cause severe brain-related birth defects, including disastrously small heads.

“I was up in D.C., walking the halls, went up there twice, calling on members of Congress from both parties to get something done,” the governor said.

“What was frustrating is, everybody said they were for funding,” he said, drawing out the word “everybody.” “I mean, everybody said it. Not one person said they were against it. But nothing happened, time and time again. It was the craziest thing. It just shows you why people are so frustrated with the incompetence of Washington.

“Back in May, I was shocked when (Congress) went on recess” to go back to their districts for re-election purposes, he added. “They should have suspended their campaigns until something got done … But it’s refreshing that something finally passed.”

The hybrid spending measure is the last major item on Capitol Hill’s pre-election agenda and caps months of wrangling over money to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

After President Obama signed the legislation, Scott urged Washington to hurry up and send the money.

“After two visits to Washington D.C. and months of calling on Congress to get something done, it is great to finally have federal funding approved,” he said.

“However, we are still waiting on many details about how this bill will be put to use. We do not yet know how much funding our state is getting and we do not know when we will receive it. But one thing is absolutely certain: Florida needs this funding now. Our pregnant women and their developing babies cannot wait.”

Earlier this month, Scott ordered free Zika virus testing for pregnant women at county health departments.

According to the Department of Health’s last update, there are now 921 documented cases of Zika infection in Florida.

The governor also continued pressing for a Zika vaccine, though experts say if they started now, one wouldn’t be ready for public use for several years.

Scott has long been rumored to be interested in running for U.S. Senate, and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson‘s third term is over in 2018 — when Scott’s second and final term as governor ends.

This post includes material from The Associated Press, republished with permission.


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