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Last Call for 9.16.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day’s politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Hurricane Sally has been thrashing the Panhandle since early Wednesday morning, and it won’t leave the state until late into the night according to the most recent update from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm hit land as a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of 100 mph, though as of 4 p.m. Sally had been downgraded to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.

However, the situation remains life-threatening due to the volume of water the storm dumped on the region — Sally produced between 10 and 20 inches of rainfall from the Panhandle to Mobile, Alabama. Some areas of Northwest Florida report nearly three feet of rain.

The NHC expects up to four more inches of rain in the Panhandle, from west of Tallahassee to the Apalachicola River.

Additionally, NHC warned that “a few tornadoes may occur this afternoon and tonight across portions of northern Florida and southern Georgia” and that swells will continue from the Big Bend and westward for “the next day or so.”

A storm surge warning remains in effect from the Florida-Alabama border to the eastern edge of Walton County. A tropical storm warning remains in effect from the border to Indian Pass in Gulf County.

The storm is traveling northeastward at about 7 mph. The center of the storm is expected to move across southeastern Alabama tonight and through central Georgia into South Carolina on Thursday.


CFO Jimmy Patronis is sending backup to the Panhandle as it deals with the impacts of Hurricane Sally.

Patronis, who doubles as the State Fire Marshal, on Wednesday activated the Miami-based Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 2.

The US&R Team will make the trek north today, with lifesaving equipment and resources in tow. Patronis is also deploying a portion of Marion County-based US&R Task Force 8 to assist the Florida National Guard in helicopter search and rescue missions.

“Hurricane Sally is projected to bring historic storm surge and flooding to parts of the Western Panhandle. I have mobilized Florida’s Urban Search & Rescue teams throughout the state to save lives,” Patronis said.

“These dedicated and highly trained first responders will bring lifesaving equipment and resources to support these communities following likely life-threatening flooding. Floridians must take this storm seriously, heed all advisories and take the necessary precautions to avoid dangerous floodwaters.”

Wednesday’s deployments follow Patronis’ Tuesday announcement that he had sent US&R Teams from Tampa and Jacksonville to the region.

Hurricane Sally began its assault on Northwest Florida and Alabama early Wednesday as a Category 2 storm, bringing 100 mph winds and torrential downpours. The storm is passing over the region at about 5 mph. The slow speed has led to forecasts of up to 3 feet of rain in some parts of the region.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 663,234 FL residents (+2,288 since Tuesday)

— 7,967 Non-FL residents (+67 since Tuesday)


— 5,268 Travel related

— 233,599 Contact with a confirmed case

— 5,561 Both

— 418,806 Under investigation


— 41,851 in FL


— 13,100 in FL

Evening Reads

Hurricane Sally makes landfall: Part of Pensacola bridge collapses amid 30 inches of rain; ‘catastrophic flooding’ in Alabama, Florida” via Ryan W. Miller and Annie Blanks of The USA Today

Hurricane Sally packed a bigger punch than Escambia officials were expecting” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal

Hurricane Sally: Waffle House Index flashing red via Jonathan Garber of FOX Business

Hurricane Sally creates flash flooding in Franklin County” via Monica Casey of WCTV

Joe Biden campaign ramps up to $65M week in Florida, swing states” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

50 days, $100 million: Can Bloomberg’s big Florida investment win it for Joe Biden?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio warns that Biden would ‘let China deindustrialize America’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Federal Reserve sees rates near zero at least through 2023” via Christopher Rugaber of The Associated Press

Jeanette Núñez questions ‘enthusiasm on the ground’ for Joe Biden in Florida” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

New poll: Most Florida voters support minimum wage boost” via WFLX

What can we learn from rival political ads in Florida?” via Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times

U.S. outlines sweeping plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccines” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Florida Times-Union

Florida passes 13,000 coronavirus deaths, added 2,355 cases Wednesday” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times

First full at-home COVID-19 test” via Bryan Walsh of Axios

State, NRA square off over 2018 gun law” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida

Quote of the Day

“Nothing is going to go away anytime soon. The winds, the torrential rainfall, the slow movement and the storm surge — this is a dangerous situation all around.” — National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, on Hurricane Sally.

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