Rick Scott Archives - Page 3 of 274 - Florida Politics

Northeast Florida jobs numbers strong again in August

As Northeast Florida continues the recovery phase after Hurricane Irma’s storm surge inundated large swathes of the city, the DEO offered good news on the jobs front Friday.

Unemployment in the six-county Northeast Florida region stands at 4.2 percent, down from 5.1 percent last August, and in line with state numbers. And there are 2.5 percent more jobs in the region year over year; compared to the 2 percent population growth, that’s another encouraging indicator.

County by county, unemployment numbers are mostly trending better than the state average.

“St. Johns County had the lowest unemployment rate (3.2 percent) in the CareerSource Northeast Florida region followed by Clay County (3.8 percent), Baker County (3.9 percent), Nassau County (3.9 percent), Duval County (4.4 percent), and Putnam County (5.5 percent),” asserts the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Job growth, year over year, has been especially strong in education and health services (up 4,500 jobs), and n trade, transportation, and utilities (up 5,000 jobs) and professional and business services (+4,400 jobs).

The only sector with year over year declines: leisure and hospitality, down 900 jobs year over year.

Irma doesn’t turn off lights in SD 40 special election

A heated contest for an open Senate seat in Miami just got hotter — literally.

With power knocked out in large parts of Miami-Dade County, Florida Democrats have asked Gov. Rick Scott to postpone the Sept. 26 special election in Senate District 40. Early voting in the runoff between Democrat Annette Taddeo and Republican former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz begins Saturday.

Scott set the special election after former Sen. Frank Artiles resigned earlier this year after a racially tinged outburst at a private club near the Capitol.

The southern portions of Miami-Dade County, including the Senate district, “are among the hardest hit parts of our state with a great percentage of our homes without power,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel wrote to Scott on Wednesday.

Bittel asked Scott to delay the election for two weeks.

“Amidst this backdrop of personal and property loss, opening early voting polls for the Senate District 40 special elections would be inappropriate. Our community is focused on rebuilding and recovery, not voting,” he wrote.

So far, “there are no changes” for the Sept. 26 election, and early voting is still on at three public libraries, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, according to Suzy Trutie, a deputy supervisor of elections for the county.

“All three early voting sites have power,” Trutie said in an email Thursday.

J.C. Planas, a lawyer representing Diaz’s campaign, scoffed at the idea of postponing the election. Planas, whose home was without electricity this week, said he’s been in contact with elections officials — and visited the early voting sites — and “everything is ready to roll.”

Switching the election dates “would cause chaos,” Planas said.

“Everything’s fine. Everything’s working. There’s no reason not to start early voting this weekend,” he said.

Planas pointed out that Florida Power & Light has pledged to have electricity restored to the region by Sunday.

“If FPL doesn’t have power up by Sunday, then maybe we can have this discussion,” he said. “If there’s no power Sunday, there’s going to be mobs of angry people in the street and the election is going to be the last thing on people’s minds. We will have other issues.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Hurricane no boon to state budget

Hurricane Irma could extend her destructive reach to the next state budget.

A long-range financial report, which will be reviewed Friday by the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, shows lawmakers working with only a projected $52 million surplus as they craft the 2018-19 budget early next year. It’s a fiscal pittance in an overall $82 billion budget.

And that surplus may shrink, if not disappear, given the state’s financial history following major hurricanes.

“Contrary to the oft-repeated myth that government makes money during hurricanes, state government typically has expenditures greater than the incremental increase in the revenue estimate and becomes a net loser when all expenditures are taken into account,” said the new report, known as the Long-Range Financial Outlook.

The annual report, developed by the House, Senate and the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research, noted an extensive fiscal review was conducted after the state was struck by a record eight hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.

“The bottom line for both years was clearly negative,” the report said. “This means that the state had to spend more than the generated revenues.”

Hurricane Irma, which delivered a devastating blow Sunday to the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida and, because of its immense size, caused wind damage, flooding and record power outages across the state, is expected to follow the economic pattern of prior storms.

The report, written before Irma hit, noted four economic phases tied to a hurricane’s impact, including preparation, the peak of the crisis, recovery and long-term displacement.

During the crisis, there is a “detectable downtick” in state revenue as the storm disrupts the economy through utility outages, closed businesses, road and airport closures and temporary homelessness.

State government provides emergency services and goods “that may or may not be matched at a later time by the federal government,” the report said.

During the recovery period, which could last from two to three years, there is a “discernible and significant uptick” in state revenue as spending on repairs commences, aided in part by insurance payments as well as projects funded by the state and federal governments.

Nonetheless, the analysis of the prior storms on Florida’s economy and state revenue has shown it’s a “misconception that hurricanes are somehow beneficial to the state from an economic perspective,” the report said. “The reality is much more complicated.”

The potential for Irma’s aftermath to further reduce state revenue will increase pressure on the 2018 Legislature to meet the state’s needs in education, health care, criminal justice and other programs given the revenue projections.

After a $52 million surplus in the fiscal year that begins July 1, the long-range forecast projects a $1.15 billion budget gap for the 2019-2020 budget, followed by a $1.64 billion shortfall in 2020-2021.

The projections are built on a series of assumptions, including the expectation that the state will have a $1 billion reserve fund, a major tax-cut package and will fund “critical needs” such as growth in school enrollment and Medicaid services.

But lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott still have a number of options as they craft the next state budget.

For instance, the state expects an increase of 27,184 students in the public-school system next year. It would cost a projected $197 million if the students are funded at the current $7,297 per-student amount.

But if lawmakers and Scott increase the K-12 per-student spending by 1.79 percent, the average increase for the last three years, the fiscal demand would rise to $357.5 million in the new budget, the forecast showed.

Another major demand will be the growth in Floridians who rely on Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled.

The forecast projects an increase of 58,445 new Medicaid recipients in 2018-19, requiring an additional $326 million in state funding. The enrollment increases in the subsequent two years will require another $888 million in state funding, the report showed.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

After Irma, state politicians descend on Jacksonville

Hurricane Irma’s impact stopped being felt in Jacksonville Monday afternoon, and it was soon thereafter that Gov. Rick Scott was in town.

Scott, who added Duval County to his ask for a major disaster declaration post-Irma on Monday evening, visited a local hurricane shelter with New York Mets’ minor league prospect Tim Tebow, a legend in these parts for his tenure as Florida Gators’ quarterback a decade ago.

Duval will join St. Johns, Flagler, Clay, and Putnam as Counties benefiting from federal help, which includes reimbursement for debris removal and individual assistance for those whose properties were impacted by the storm.

Tuesday saw Scott surveying damage from the sky, with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. The two reprised a role last seen in the wake of Hurricane Matthew 11 months prior, with Scott coming to town to assess damage after that storm.

After Gov. Scott’s visit, Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio made trips to the Duval Emergency Operations Center early in the afternoon.

Each arrived separately, and each had their own takes on the storm and the path forward afterward.

Nelson noted that, in addition to the 365 water rescues that were made in Duval County when the storm surge came in, there were 120 rescues in Clay and St. Johns.

Nelson described the hurricane as a “very unusual one, that covered the entire state,” one with “real surprises” for everyone.

Water was the big surprise for Jacksonville, of course, as the storm surge flooded the city for hours on end Monday.

“Water … surprised places like North Florida,” Nelson said.

The storm drew strength from turbocharged waters on each side of the peninsula, of course. Nelson noted that “measurements show that sea level has risen eight inches over the last40 years” off the Miami Beach coast, a rise that was accompanied by the heating of the ocean itself.

“That is expected to increase,” Nelson said.

Miami Beach, said Nelson. has had to spend “tens of millions of dollars on expensive pumps” to deal with a mean high tide — and floods are still part of life down there.

“If that’s happening when there’s not a storm, what happens when there is a storm? We’d better get ready for it, because it’s happening before our very eyes.”

Nelson also addressed post-Andrew building codes, noting that the Florida Legislature passed a law to relax those codes.

He’s not a fan of that move.

“Let’s keep these strong building codes,” Nelson said, noting that there was a vast difference in how new construction and older buildings fared during Irma on Florida’s Southwest coast when he toured it earlier this week.

___

Rubio actually agreed with Nelson regarding the building codes.

“People may not like it, but you know when you’re in a house rated post-Andrew, you have a lot more security about what that means for you and your family, and I hope we don’t walk away from that,” Rubio said.

And he had a lot more to say besides.

Regarding the individual assistance authorized by President Donald Trump for individuals impacted by the storm, Rubio noted that time was of the essence regarding disbursement.

“How many people will not be able to go home for a long time … if you lost your home, you can’t go home tonight, we’ve got to get you that money quickly,” Rubio said, noting that local governments — such as Jacksonville, still owed $26M from the federal government for the last storm — are not able to shoulder that burden.

“There are communities waiting three or four years,” Rubio said in reference to Jacksonville’s cash crunch, citing a “backlog” that needs improvement.

“Small businesses” likewise need SBA help.

A “week or two without revenue,” Rubio said, may be the end for them.

Rubio also addressed Nelson’s contention that sea level rise contributed to this storm.

“Irrespective of the broader debate about its causes, you can measure sea level. And when you start to see flooding at high tide at many communities across Florida, when you start to see military installations critical to our economy and our state threatened by it, there are some things you need to do, and some things you can do.”

“There are some things you can do to mitigate,” Rubio said, though he called it a “whole other debate” when this reporter suggested that strategies are elusive to cool the water down that energizes these storms in the first place.

Flooding at high tide, Rubio said, is an “accelerating process.”

We asked Rubio if the Trump Administration was particularly equipped to handle the challenges created by what some call global warming.

“Again, we’re talking about mitigation. And when it comes to mitigation, it’s an infrastructure need,” Rubio said, a “critical” one.

Tim Tebow plays cheerleader for Irma relief efforts

A New York Mets minor leaguer with a Heisman Trophy from his time in The Swamp brought some star power to Gov. Rick Scott‘s Hurricane Irma relief efforts Tuesday.

After visiting a special-needs shelter together Monday night in Jacksonville, Scott teamed with former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to thank volunteers and workers Tuesday at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and then left to do the same in Lee County.

“In the midst of a really tough time, you know I think so many people that were hurting have something to hold on to because there were so many volunteers … and they knew there were people in it with them,” Tebow said during the Tallahassee stop. “It doesn’t take away their pain, and it doesn’t take away their fear and doubt of the unknown, but it does give them a little comfort to know that there are people battling with them and loving and supporting them.”

Tebow, who grew up in the Jacksonville area and stopped by a number of Northeast Florida evacuation shelters, had worked with Scott to rally people to volunteer at shelters and in relief efforts before Irma made landfall Sunday in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida.

“It’s not like you can make everything better at once, but you can know that people are praying for you and they love you and they are here with you walking this journey with you,” Tebow said.

Also, before Scott took part Monday in an aerial survey of damage in the Keys, the governor talked about Hurricane Irma’s storm impacts with Tebow, college football’s 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. Tebow played minor-league baseball this year in the New York Mets system.

Scott told reporters that people staying and working in hurricane-evacuation shelters have appreciated Tebow’s appearances and efforts.

On Friday, Scott retweeted a message from Tebow that said, “@FLGovScott is asking for more volunteers. LET’S RALLY, Florida! Go here: volunteerflorida.org.”

Scott last week also retweeted a message from Miami rapper Pitbull, a former paid ambassador for the state’s tourism industry, who said, “Florida residents & visitors, please be diligent. Evacuate where needed. Be safe. We will be back bigger, better, stronger.”

The storm work by Tebow won’t get him a “Great Floridian” honor – Scott’s already given him that designation.

Tebow was part of the 2013 class of “Great Floridians” that included former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, golfer Bubba Watson, and 16th-century Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, each recognized for making significant contributions to the progress and welfare of Florida.

Tebow, who is also a college-football analyst for ESPN, has a charity intended to help children in need. He’s also said he can envision a future career in politics.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

National Republicans hire new Florida state director

Ahead of the 2018 midterms, the Republican National Committee has brought on a new political director for Florida.

Andrew Brey, who previously served on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential campaign, has been in the post since July. Brey has also worked for the Republican Party of Florida as field director in support of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry‘s campaign and was part of Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election team.

After Rubio ended his presidential bid, Brey became political director for Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who defeated Democrat Russ Feingold despite his substantial lead in polling.

According to POLITICO, Brey’s appointment was formally announced in an RNC press release, along with the hire of state directors in 17 states across the country for the 2018 cycle.

Access restored to displaced residents of Upper Florida Keys

Residents were allowed to return Tuesday to some islands in the hurricane-hit Florida Keys as officials pieced together the scope of Irma’s destruction and aid rushed into the drenched and debris-strewn state.

It has been difficult to get detailed information on the condition of island chain where Irma first came ashore over the weekend because communication and access were cut off by the storm’s arrival as a Category 4 hurricane. But displaced residents and business owners from Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada near the mainland were allowed to return for their first glimpse of the damage Tuesday morning.

People from the Lower Keys faced a longer wait with a roadblock in place where the highway to farther-away islands was washed out by the storm. Road repairs were promised in the coming days.

After flying over the Keys Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.

“It’s devastating,” he said.

A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts. Drinking water supplies in the Keys were cut off, fuel was running low and all three hospitals in the island chain were shuttered.

Elsewhere, areas such as Tampa Bay had braced for the worst but emerged with what appeared to be only modest damage.

Early Tuesday, the remnants of Irma were blowing through Alabama and Mississippi after drenching Georgia.

Key West resident Laura Keeney was waiting in a Miami hotel until it was safe to return home, and she was anxious to hear more about her apartment complex. Her building manager told her there was flooding there, but further updates were hard to come by because power and cell phone service have been down on the island.

“They told me there is definitely water in the downstairs apartment, which is me,” said Keeney, who works as a concierge at the Hyatt hotel in Key West.

A stunning 13 million Florida residents were without electricity – two-thirds of the state’s residents – as sweltering tropical heat returned across the peninsula following the storm. In a parting blow to the state, the storm caused record flooding in the Jacksonville area that forced dozens of rescues on Monday. It also caused flooding and outages in Georgia and South Carolina as it moved inland.

School was canceled in communities around Georgia, and more than 1.2 million customers there were without power Tuesday morning.

Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

More than 180,000 people huddled in shelters in Florida, and officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.

During its march up Florida’s west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees and flooded streets.

Around the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where Irma rolled through early Monday, damage appeared modest. And the governor said effects on the southwest coast, including in Naples and Fort Myers, was not as bad as feared.

Still, Scott predicted that recovery could take a long time in many areas.

“I know for our entire state, especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road,” he said.

He said the Navy dispatched the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to help with relief efforts.

The Keys are linked by 42 bridges that have to be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed in, officials said. County officials placed a roadblock around Mile Marker 74 just before Sea Oates Beach, but said crews were working to restore U.S. 1 as quickly as possible.

In the Jacksonville area, close to the Georgia line, storm surge brought some of the worst flooding ever seen there, with at least 46 people pulled from swamped homes. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to evacuate Monday as floodwaters rose.

Paul Johnson and Shonda Brecheen spent Sunday night in a house they’re remodeling in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville after working late on a remodeling project. Jonhson woke up Monday morning, looked out the window and saw boats passing by where cars used to drive in the neighborhood near the river.

They managed to push his truck through standing water to a nearby parking lot to dry out, but he’s worried about damage to the swamped vehicle.

“I’m 32, I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Irma could cost `billions upon billions’

Local curfews were in place throughout the state, much of the Florida Keys remained closed and millions of people continued to lack electricity as cleanup work expected to reach into the billions of dollars began Monday in the wake of deadly Hurricane Irma.

While businesses slowly reopen, the state is dealing with widespread flooding, from storm surges of 4 to 8 feet along both coasts to flash flooding in Northeast Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott, who flew over hard-hit areas Monday, said damage along the Southwest coast, where Irma made a second landfall Sunday, included roofs off homes, boats tossed, flooding and sand across roads. But overall, he said the conditions appeared “not as bad as we thought the storm surge would do.”

However, he depicted the destruction in the Keys, which experienced the first landfall, as “horrible.”

“There is devastation, and I just hope everybody survived,” Scott said during an afternoon news conference at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa-Locka.

Scott viewed the damage while flying on a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane Monday morning.

“I know for our entire state, but especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road. There is a lot of damage,” Scott said. “I know everyone wants to get back to normal. I know everyone wants to get started, but you’ve got to be patient. We’ve got to get the first responders to the Keys. We’ve got to get water going again. We’ve got to get electricity going again. We’ve got to get sewers going again. It’s going to take a lot of time.”

At least four deaths have been tied to the storm, including a Hardee County sheriff’s deputy and a Florida Department of Corrections officer, who were involved in a car crash.

Scott declined to speculate on the potential for additional loss of life from the storm. He traveled across the state during the past week warning Floridians to evacuate from vulnerable areas, as Irma cut a deadly path through the Caribbean as a massive Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds reaching 185 mph.

“I don’t want anybody to die, so I hoped everybody listened to what we were talking about. We’ll find out over time if people did or not,” Scott said. “You know the days run together, but I remember the morning when the hurricane was hitting, the roads were empty. So I think people did leave their homes and got off the roads.”

Scott also declined to speculate on the potential costs of the storm, saying the numbers will first be compiled by individual counties.

In requesting federal disaster relief Sunday, Scott said the state had already spent $75 million on Irma. President Donald Trump later approved the request.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Republican whose district includes all of Monroe County and parts of southwest Miami-Dade, said it will cost “billions upon billions upon billions of dollars” to restore the Keys and South Florida.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami-Dade County, vowed to push federal lawmakers to provide funding for the relief efforts.

“We found it for Hurricane Harvey, we’re going to band together and find it for the residents who are survivors of Hurricane Irma,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

An initial estimate from Moody’s Analytics Monday projected property destruction from Irma between $64 billion and $92 billion.

The storm, combined with Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas, could cause a further $20 billion to $30 billion hit to the nation’s economic output, lowering the third quarter gross domestic product estimate to 2.5 percent from 3 percent, according to Moody’s Analytics.

For Florida, the impacts will depend on demands placed on insurance companies and the levels of needed government funding, as well as how quickly Florida’s tourism industry can rebound. Also, Moody’s added that the fourth-quarter numbers could be boosted because of reconstruction from both storms.

State Senate Banking and Insurance Chairwoman Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican whose district also covers the Keys, said the state has to make sure state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has the funds to cover individual property-insurance claims, particularly from the Keys.

“We feel that because this storm was not as bad as it could have been, that Citizens will not have to go into actual assessment mode, and to assess people who are not Citizens property holders,” Flores said. “Citizens’ reserves are approximately $9 billion. So the question that we have to figure out in the next couple of days is of that, how many Citizens property holders were at a total loss.”

Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes, has raised the possibility of a post-storm special session “should any recovery efforts require legislative authorization.”

As of Monday afternoon, 6.7 million homes and businesses were without power across Florida, according to the State Emergency Response Team.

Florida Power & Light, the largest utility in the state, reported 3.5 million of its 5 million customer accounts were out.

St. Petersburg-based Duke Energy, with about 1.8 customer accounts, was working to restore power to nearly 1.3 million customers.

Tampa Electric reported more than 300,000 accounts had been knocked offline.

More than 820,000 were without power in Miami-Dade County, 600,000 in Broward and 530,000 in Palm Beach County.

Nearly 430,000 homes and businesses were out in Pinellas County. More than 300,000 were out in both Orange and Lee counties. Collier, Duval, Brevard, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Volusia each had more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the dark.

FPL President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Silagy estimated Monday that up to 9 million people served by his company, 90 percent of its customers, have been impacted.

While up to 1 million accounts have been restored, some customers in harder hit areas may have to wait weeks for full restoration, Silagy said.

“We’ve actually had over 5 million outages across our territory,” Silagy said during a morning news conference. “That, frankly, is unprecedented. We’ve never had that many outages. I don’t think any utility in the country ever has. It is by far the largest in the history of our company.”

Meanwhile, all 7,935 members of the Florida Army and Air National Guard have been deployed, conducting search and rescue, law-enforcement support and humanitarian assistance.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and two amphibious ships, the USS Iwo Jima and USS New York, have been deployed to assist the state in search and rescue operations.

More than 200,000 people remained Monday afternoon in 585 shelters opened throughout the state.

The Florida Highway Patrol has started escorting utility convoys into areas without power, and Scott said the state law enforcement officers will do the same when the Port Tampa and Port Canaveral reopen and fuel trucks begin to travel.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Irma recovery could require 11M meals, 24,000 tarps and more

With the arrival of what is potentially one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Florida, officials have set aside 3.2 million liters (0.85 million gallons) of water, filled 67 trailers with meals, and amassed 24,000 tarps. They also have asked the federal government to kick in 11 million meals and millions more liters (gallons) of water, plus nearly 700 cases of baby supplies.

When it is finally safe for emergency officials to fan out across the peninsula, they will find out whether that is enough.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday morning with top sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph). While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire Florida peninsula — including the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people — was in extreme danger from the monstrous storm, almost 400 miles (640 kilometers) wide. Nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm’s path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

A weary Gov. Rick Scott, who has flown across the state during the past five days sounding the alarm bell ahead of landfall, acknowledged that it won’t be easy for residents in the days ahead. Florida has long dealt with hurricanes, including a stretch of eight hurricanes in two years while Jeb Bush was governor, but Irma’s wide reach has proved daunting.

“I don’t think anybody alive today in this state has ever seen anything like this,” Scott said at the state’s emergency operations center when the first parts of the storm started to cross into the Florida Keys.

More than 1 million residents had already lost power by Sunday morning, and it could be days before officials can provide food and water to those struggling in the aftermath of the powerful storm.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Hurricane Irma is going to pose challenges for first responders.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” as Irma began its assault on Florida on Sunday morning, Long called the storm a “complex event” in particular because of its movement from the southern part of the state to the north.

“The power’s going to be out for a long time. It’s going to be tough for us to get in to perform search and rescue in South Florida. We have to wait till all the elements pass through,” he said. “Once this system passes through it’s going to be a race to save lives and sustain lives.”

Long said his biggest concern is when people fail to listen to early warnings from local government officials and then try to make a last-ditch effort to try to get to a shelter or another facility that will withstand severe winds. Long says that in some cases water begins to rise and people get trapped.

“Sometimes people listen and sometimes they don’t,” Long said.

Florida has already spent $77 million ahead of Irma’s arrival. Scott has called up and sent out 7,000 National Guardsmen across the state, some of whom have been dispatched to the more than 400 shelters that have been set up. Major General Michael Calhoun, the head of Florida’s National Guard, said on Sunday that more than 10,000 National Guard members from other states are going to be arriving soon.

Meanwhile, search-and-rescue teams located in Orlando and other staging areas were waiting out the storm until it was safe enough to go out and assess the extent of the damage and injuries. One of the teams was preparing to fly into Key West, directly in the path of the storm.

The challenges in the immediate aftermath of the storm will be many: Restoring across the state, removing debris from roads, dealing with possible fuel shortages, and making sure nursing home and hospital patients who were evacuated can safely return. State officials are also fearful the massive rain that was soaking the state could also lead to flash floods.

Scott said that he knows many Floridians want to resume their normal lives as soon as possible. But he acknowledged that may not happen soon.

“Florida will get through this,” he said. “You’ve got to be patient.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons