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Florida Disaster Fund grants awarded

Gov. Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida on Wednesday announced the first round of Florida Disaster Fund grant awards for organizations providing disaster relief following Hurricane Irma, according to a press release.

Each recipient organization is receiving $25,000 for disaster response activities. 

Examples include financial assistance with rent, mortgage and utilities; food, clothing and replacement of household items; sheltering for those who have experienced loss of their homes; individual case management; crisis intervention counseling and hotline services to assist those experiencing psychological distress; assistance for displaced families with pets; muck-out for flooded homes, and removal of dangerous debris.

The awards go to:

Branches, Inc. – Miami-Dade County: Branches, Inc. will provide food distribution, case work services, and financial assistance, as well as help with applications for disaster assistance programs. They will also provide assistance, space, and opportunities for program partners to offer services, and will provide financial education and coaching about services provided by Branches, Inc., the United Way Center for Financial Stability, and other service providers.

Centro Campesino – Miami-Dade County: Centro Campesino will provide food and water, financial assistance, and case work services.

Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations – Collier County: Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations will provide support for distribution of food and water, help with financial assistance, and provide case work services for migrant populations.

Crisis Clean-up – Statewide: Crisis Clean-Up will connect relief organizations and volunteers with the nearly 10,000 work orders and requests for assistance that have been submitted by Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma via their online database software.

Crossroads Alliance – Statewide: Crossroads Alliance will provide ice, water, supplemental groceries, personal care items, and other necessities, manage distribution sites, and coordinate volunteers to distribute goods.

Farm Share – Miami-Dade County: Farm Share will package and distribute food to those in need. They will also advocate for residents applying for federal relief and assistance.

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief – Statewide: Florida Baptist Disaster Relief will provide feeding services, clean-up and debris removal services, and around-the-clock care for children of emergency personnel.

Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response – Statewide: Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response will help connect lost animals with their families and non-kill shelters. They will also provide comfort dogs at shelters, disaster recovery centers, and emergency operations centers.

Habitat for Humanity of Florida – Statewide: Habitat for Humanity of Florida will provide low-cost housing solutions in the Florida Keys, work with residents to find alternative solutions for ineligible Habitat programs, assist existing Habitat homeowners with disaster repairs, and coordinate volunteers in building programs.

Heart of Florida United Way – Orange County: The Heart of Florid United Way will provide information and assistance to clients and callers through United Way 2-1-1, help clients apply for FEMA assistance, and provide services such as direct case management, client assessment, case planning, and financial assistance.

International Orthodox Christian Charities – Northeast Florida: International Orthodox Christian Charities will facilitate food and water distribution, provide cleanup buckets and hygiene kits, and provide home muck-outs, repair, and rebuilding. IOCC will also provide tarping for roofs and partner with Volunteer Florida AmeriCorps partners to utilize spontaneous volunteers unaffiliated with disaster relief organizations.

Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery – Lake and Sumter counties: Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery will provide case management services as an advocate for residents in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Mennonite Disaster Service – Statewide: Mennonite Disaster Service will repair and rebuild homes affected by Hurricane Irma. They will also provide cleanup and debris removal services.

Metropolitan Ministries – Hillsborough and Pasco counties: Metropolitan Ministries will provide financial assistance, shelter, and transportation for displaced and homeless families. They will also provide necessary items such as food, water, and diapers.

NAACP – Statewide: The NAACP will provide advocacy services, help with appeal letters, and assist with applications for federal assistance.

NECHAMA – Statewide: NECHAMA will provide cleanup and debris removal services and will repair and rebuild homes affected by Hurricane Irma.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors – Miami-Dade County: Neighbors 4 Neighbors will provide food, shelter, clothing and financial assistance, connect residents to local programs for disaster recovery assistance, and provide advocacy services for residents.

Peacemaker’s Family Center – Miami-Dade County: Peacemaker’s Family Center will provide case management services and will support urgent human needs.

Rebuilding Together – Statewide: Rebuilding Together will assist with debris removal, tarping, and muck out services to low-income residents, repair minor disaster damage, and assist homeowners to preserve home ownership and revitalize neighborhoods.

Feeding Florida – Statewide: Feeding Florida will support local feeding operations in impacted areas, including staging food and food banks.

Save the Children – Statewide: Save the Children will provide child care services in shelters and disaster recovery centers, advocate for children, and help access non-disaster federal program s for survivors on behalf of children.

Star of the Sea Outreach Mission – Monroe County: Star of the Sea Outreach Mission will operate food pantries in the Florida Keys where they will sort, warehouse, and distribute unsolicited donated goods. They will also provide case work services and local transportation for residents.

Team Rubicon – Statewide: Team Rubicon will repair and rebuild homes affected by Hurricane Irma. They will also provide cleanup and debris removal services.

The Humane Society of the United States – Statewide: The Humane Society of the United States will provide non-skill shelter services for lost pets, reconnect them with owners whenever possible, and place animals up for adoption.

The Salvation Army – Statewide: The Salvation Army will assist with warehousing and distribution of donated goods, coordinate with local offices to identify unmet needs, and provide a Salvation Army designated Volunteer and Donations Hotline as needed for current disaster services information.

Tool Bank Disaster Services – Statewide: Tool Bank Disaster Services will mobilize to disaster locations with semi-trailers of tools and will provide lending or specialized tools for voluntary agencies.

United Way of Brevard County – Brevard County: The United Way of Brevard County will provide debris removal, tarping, muck outs, and case work services. They will also provide supplies needed for response and recovery efforts and shelter to low-income residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Irma.

United Way of Broward County- Broward Cares – Broward County: The United Way of Broward County – Broward Cares will coordinate with Florida’s United Ways, the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management and 2-1-1 providers throughout Florida to ensure proper utilization of volunteers.

United Way of Central Florida – Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties: The United Way of Central Florida will with Florida’s United Ways, the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management and 2-1-1 providers throughout Florida to ensure proper utilization of volunteers.

United Way of Charlotte County – Charlotte County: The United Way of Charlotte County will provide water and snacks as well as funds for food, housing, gas, and other needs. They will also help complete FEMA assistance request and will support their partner agency, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County, who are engaged in response activities.

United Way of Collier County – Collier County: The United Way of Collier County will help residents complete FEMA applications, launch short and long-term direct assistance programs for impacted residents, and support partner agencies, volunteer projects, and case work services. They will also help run the United Way 2-1-1 information and referral helpline as well as the Volunteer Collier community-wide volunteer center.

United Way of the Florida Keys – Monroe County: The United Way of the Florida Keys will distribute direct relief supplies and provide food distribution, medical assistance, child care, and case management services. They will also issue emergency mini-grants to local non-profit partners, create a disaster response team and coordinate volunteers to assist and direct affected residents to appropriate relief organizations for help, and will assist in distributing other supplies and emergency gift cards to residents in need.

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties – Lake and Sumter counties: The United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will provide tree removal services and assist residents with rent and utility, prescription medications, food, minor home repairs, and lost wages. They will also assist with other United Way 2-1-1 services.

United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee – Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties: The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee will facilitate debris removal services, coordinate and distribute supplies, provide support for urgent human needs such as food and shelter, provide public information outreach events, and support partner agencies engaged in hurricane recovery activities. They will also recruit, train, and place volunteers, purchase supplies needed for volunteer projects, and help operate the United Way 2-1-1 hotline.

United Way of Miami-Dade – Helping Hands – Miami-Dade County: United Way of Miami-Dade – Helping Hands will distribute meals ready to eat (MREs) and hygiene kits to shelters and assisted living facilities, provide financial assistance, and assist Miami-Dade County’s Emergency Operations Center. They will also recruit and place volunteers in disaster relief efforts, including medically-trained volunteers for the Florida Department of Health.

United Way of North Central Florida – Alachua, Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Union counties: Coordinate with Florida’s United Ways, the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management and 2-1-1 providers throughout Florida to ensure proper utilization of volunteers.

United Way of Palm Beach County – Palm Beach County: The United Way of Palm Beach County will serve as the focal point to which all volunteers report, where their skills are verified, and from which they are reassigned to areas where they are needed. They will also coordinate staff and equip different distribution points throughout the county with volunteers, organize, inventory, package, and redistribute all donations arriving in the county, and support local non-profit organizations engaged is hurricane response activities.

United Way of NE FL – Duval, Nassau, Putman, and Clay counties: The United Way of NE FL will help provide debris removal services and other necessities such as food, water, shelter, clothing, utilities, and housing to residents in need. Additionally, they will support area nonprofits to deliver services to those in need and will help operate the United Way 2-1-1 for the Northeast Florida region.

United Way of Suncoast – Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties: The United Way of Suncoast will staff shelters with volunteers, help manage both affiliated and non-affiliated volunteers through the Volunteer Reception Centers, and will invest in community partners to help those affected by the hurricane.

United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties – Volusia and Flagler counties: Coordinate with Florida’s United Ways, the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management and 2-1-1 providers throughout Florida to ensure proper utilization of volunteers.

Scott activated the Florida Disaster Fund last month to provide financial support to organizations serving those impacted by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with the public sector, private sector and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities. 

 

State of emergency declared for white nationalist speech

Citing past clashes and protests, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency in advance of a speech white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to give at the University of Florida.

The state’s Republican governor warned in an executive order Monday that a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua County, in north Florida. Spencer is slated to speak at the campus on Thursday and his pending appearance has already sparked protests in the university town.

Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence in August.

Scott’s executive order will allow local law-enforcement authorities to partner with state and other law-enforcement agencies to provide security for the event. The university has already said it expects to spend $500,000 on security.

The governor is also activating the Florida National Guard to help with security if it is needed. Scott said he declared the emergency after discussing Spencer’s speech with Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell.

“We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority,” Scott said in a statement. “This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”

Spencer said the emergency declaration was “flattering” but “most likely overkill.”

“I’m not a hurricane or an invading army, at least not literally,” he said during a telephone interview Monday.

However, Spencer expressed concern that the emergency declaration could be used as a pretext for blocking his speech. He noted that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency on the day of the Charlottesville rally before Spencer and others could speak.

“That was basically a means for suppressing the rally,” Spencer claimed.

When he issued the declaration, McAuliffe had said via his Twitter account that he did it in order “to aid state response to violence” at the Charlottesville rally.

University of Florida officials said it was the violence in Virginia that led them to reject a request from Spencer and his National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, to allow him to speak in September. After they threatened to sue, school officials said they would try to accommodate Spencer if he renewed his request for a different date.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs earlier this month asked students to stay away from the campus event. He wrote in an email that Spencer and his group seek only “to provoke a reaction.”

Darnell said Scott’s executive order was not intended to “alarm anyone,” but to make sure that her office has the “resources and equipment to help us prepare for violence or widespread property damage.” Darnell said currently they are expecting both protesters and counterprotesters to show up in connection to Spencer’s appearance.

“We are hoping this is a nonevent,” Darnell said. “We are hoping this will go very smoothly and peacefully. But in the reality of this world we have to be well prepared.”

Flags at half-staff for late Tallahassee mayor

Gov. Rick Scott ordered the U.S. and state flags at half-staff for the late James Ford, Tallahassee’s first African-American mayor.

Flags will be lowered at the Tallahassee City Hall and at the Capitol in Tallahassee, from sunrise to sunset on Monday. Ford died Wednesday. He was 91.  

Ford

Ford became Tallahassee’s first black mayor in 1972, serving three terms, according to a news release. At that time, the mayor’s position rotated among city commissioners; the city now separately elects a “leadership” mayor.

Ford was a Tallahassee native, earning an undergraduate and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University. He was a veteran of World War II and Korea, serving in the U.S. Navy and Army.

Before his election to the Tallahassee City Commission, Ford spent 37 years as a school teacher, administrator, and principal in the Leon County Schools. He was later the first black elected to office in Leon County since Reconstruction.

“Ford was instrumental in helping progress Tallahassee’s government,” the release said. “His efforts helped establish the Minority Business Department, the Frenchtown Development Authority, the Affirmative Action Office and the first community center on the south side. Today, that community center bears his name – the Walker-Ford Community Center.”

Senators sound skeptical of new state jobs fund

Lawmakers asked lots of questions but didn’t get the answers they wanted Wednesday as a Senate panel tried to get a handle on the state’s new $85 million jobs fund.

The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee heard from Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) head Cissy Proctor on the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

In a Special Legislative Session earlier this year for economic development, tourism and education funding, Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders agreed to create the fund.

It’s aimed at creating employment by enticing businesses to relocate to the state. The fund promotes job training and public infrastructure projects.

Proctor said her department already has received 179 proposals, which include 96 infrastructure projects from local governments and 83 workforce projects, worth a combined $642 million in requested funding.

Senators soon started peppering Proctor with questions: “It’s a lot of money … we want to understand what the parameters are,” explained subcommittee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, wanted to know if any preference would be given to “depressed or deprived” areas.

All proposals “stand on their own,” Proctor said: “Almost all represent incredible needs of the communities. We want the proposals to shine, to show us how deep the need is.”

When will Gov. Scott make a decision on what gets money? Bradley asked.

“I can’t tell you a timeline,” Proctor said. “We are reviewing them as they come in.”

Bradley pressed on, asking if there were any “objective standards” that the governor and staff will judge by?

“We are looking at each proposal on its own,” Proctor said. 

What about the process of how the governor will be presented with, say, staff picks of top proposals?

“We are working right now on what that will look like,” Proctor said.

Gibson later said she didn’t like what she heard: “I’m really concerned what could be done won’t reach the people who really need it.”

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, added that because demand exceeds supply, “it sets the stage for so many projects to get left behind.”

And she worried that there was no way to make sure money gets spread equally across the state.

In a statement, DEO called the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund “a critical tool for economic development in Florida,” adding it was “committed to accountability and transparency in this process.”

The department “has posted every proposal on a dedicated website, along with frequently asked questions and direct contact information for entities to call or email with any questions. Strong contracts with entities that receive these funds will ensure that each project has a strong, verifiable return on investment and taxpayer dollars are protected.”

DEO, “along with our partners at Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation and CareerSource Florida, are working diligently to review more than 170 proposals from communities across the state,” the statement said.

“As outlined in legislation overwhelmingly passed during a special session earlier this year, projects will be approved that meet statutory criteria and promote economic opportunity in these local communities.”

By the meeting’s end, Bradley told colleagues that DEO was “asking for $85 million (next year for the fund) and they haven’t spent the first $85 million. This is the new world we’re working in.”

FDLE seeking $29M for new Pensacola regional office

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is asking for an additional $29.3 million in the 2018-19 state budget to build a local office in Pensacola.

An FDLE representative told a meeting of the Florida Cabinet Aides on Wednesday that the budget request was being moved from the Department of Management Services (DMS), the state’s real estate manager.

“The total estimated cost is $32.3 million for design and construction,” according to a Cabinet meeting agenda item. “An additional $4.8 million will be required for fixtures, furniture and equipment in (fiscal year 2019-20).”

If the agency doesn’t get the building money, it says it “will be forced to re-sign a new lease agreement with the same owner despite the building condition,” the agenda says. The agency’s “growth in operations” in northwest Florida “has outgrown the current leased space which is in need of costly renovations.”

Based on market research, “there are no suitable leases in the area to accommodate the agency’s unique business needs of investigative and crime lab services,” the agency said.

“The department is anticipating growth in domestic security functions and biology services and the current location is unable to accommodate expansion and suitable renovations to meet future workloads.”

The request will be considered by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet – Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and CFO Jimmy Patronis – at next Tuesday’s meeting.

Rick Scott wants generators required at nursing homes

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday directed state agencies to “immediately begin the formal rulemaking process to permanently enact a rule requiring emergency generators at assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes.”

His edict went to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Elder Affairs.

“An emergency rule adopted Sept. 16 requires all ALFs and nursing homes to obtain ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel, to sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures for at least 96 hours following a power outage,” according to a press release. “The formal rulemaking process will permanently codify these life-saving measures and allow for extensive public comment through workshops and public meetings.”

“After the heartbreaking tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills following Hurricane Irma, I implemented emergency rules to ensure nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state would take immediate action to keep their patients safe,” he said in a statement.

“Today, I am directing the state to begin the formal rulemaking process to make these protections permanent,” he added. “Families rely on assisted living facilities and nursing homes to be fully prepared to care for their loved ones, and it is the responsibility of these facilities to provide a safe environment for their elderly and vulnerable residents.

“I will also be working closely with the Legislature to put this into law and I asked the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to consider proposals that would also help protect the residents of these facilities. We will continue to explore every possible avenue in our fight to keep all residents safe.”

To view the Notices of Rule Development, click here and here.

Joe Henderson: Giving voice to voiceless in elderly care

One of the media’s highest purposes is to give a voice to the voiceless, like those in the elderly care system. Often that can mean making high-powered people uncomfortable, which brings us to John C. Simmons, president of the Florida Health Care Association.

Simmons says it’s unfair for the media to generalize about how nursing homes care for the elderly in our state. I don’t think that’s what happened, but whatever.

In a commentary for this website, Simmons complained that the horrific situation in Hollywood Hills – where 12 patients died after the temperature rose to what the New York Times described as “an oven” – doesn’t represent the whole.

He wrote, “While I certainly agree that the deaths at this facility are intolerable and need to be properly investigated, the assertion that this somehow represents the entire long-term care profession couldn’t be further from the truth. It also does a great injustice to the thousands of highly skilled professionals who dedicate themselves to caring for some of our state’s most fragile residents.”

In full disclosure, my in-laws are residents at an assisted living facility in the Tampa area. We moved them recently from another facility that has been beset with a long list of financial and maintenance issues.

But to Simmons’ point about the industry’s treatment by the media, I would say this: When something like this happens, don’t expect a pat on the back because there were a lot of places where people didn’t die during Hurricane Irma. That’s not how this works.

People in my business are going to ask questions and dig into the history of nursing homes throughout the state. They’re going to report, as the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale did, that the body temperature of one patient reached 109 degrees. They’re going to put people on the spot. Too bad.

Journalists like Carl Hiaasen going to write about how lobbyists for Florida’s long-term health care system helped kill legislation 11 years ago that would have required emergency generators in all the nursing homes.

Gov. Rick Scott has renewed calls for a law to make these generators mandatory at all nursing facilities, and it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Of course, it was right 11 years ago too, but the industry complained about the price tag and helped scuttle the bill.

The media’s tone during this time has been to focus on how Tallahassee politics set in motion the chain of events that led to the Hollywood Hills tragedy.  Sorry, Mr. Simmons, but this is not a time to focus on those you called “highly skilled professionals” – not when 12 people are dead. This issue, and everything relating to elder care, demands our highest scrutiny and skepticism.

People who move into these extended care facilities – whether they are assisted living or nursing homes – aren’t always the easiest to deal with.

Most of them have multiple medical issues that require great attention from the staff. They might need help walking to the lobby. They need rides to meet with doctors, and if they miss that ride it can take weeks to get another appointment. They have complicated schedules for when to take medicines, and how much.

Many of them arrive at these facilities because they tried to self-medicate with bad results. A lot of them don’t eat well, and deteriorating taste buds at advancing ages can cause food to taste lousy.

Some of them are alone because a spouse died and immediate family isn’t close by. Now, multiply that by the number of residents at some of these facilities – large ones can have a few hundred or more – and it’s a logistic and sometimes depressing challenge.

It’s also expensive. Seniorhomes.com estimates the average cost of a nursing home in Florida is $240 a day.

In the case of my in-laws, we checked many places before choosing where they would receive the best care. Even then, common sense requires that we stay on top of the situation – and we do. Older folks can be very demanding, but they’ve earned that.

Simmons is frustrated at what he considers “coverage that appears quick to tarnish the reputation of the long-term care industry without considering all the good things it has done.”

He says the industry wants to work with officials to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I hope that’s true.

Like the story said though, the best time to have done that for the people in Hollywood Hills would have been 11 years ago. If pointing that out makes industry leaders and politicians uncomfortable, good. What happened in Hollywood Hills can’t be changed. The idea is to make sure it never happens again.

Nate poised to send wind, waves to Panhandle

Florida’s western Panhandle, the one area of the state spared the impact of Hurricane Irma nearly a month ago, is expected to get winds, surging water and rain this weekend from fast-moving Tropical Storm Nate.

A hurricane watch was in effect Friday afternoon in Florida from the Alabama border to the county line of Okaloosa and Walton counties. A tropical storm watch was in place from the Walton County line to Indian Pass, which is south of Port St. Joe in Gulf County.

A storm surge watch covered the coast from the Alabama state line to Indian Pass, including Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.

A watch means the conditions could arise within the next 48 hours.

“We’re going to get rain. We’re going to get storm surge. We’re going to get wind. We don’t know how bad it’s going to be,” Gov. Rick Scott said Friday during a mid-day briefing in Escambia County. “This storm, like all these storms, is going to change. So you have got to stay vigilant.”

Scott also warned of rip currents and tornadoes.

Local officials haven’t ordered coastal evacuations, but bridges will be closed if maximum sustained winds reach 40 mph.

A 2 p.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center put Nate on course to become a hurricane Saturday afternoon, come ashore that night in Louisiana or Mississippi and then veer east as a tropical storm.

A hurricane warning is in place from Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama-Florida border.

Florida emergency-management officials have been coordinating with fuel suppliers, grocers and utilities to prepare for the storm.

Scott cautioned people to keep an eye on the storm, noting that Hurricane Harvey, while in the Gulf of Mexico in August, went from a tropical system to a Category 4 hurricane in under 48 hours before making landfall in Texas.

But Scott also said Florida is in a better position with Nate than Irma because there aren’t concerns about fuel shortages, as was the case before powerful and deadly Irma swept through the state Sept. 10 and Sept. 11.

“With regard to Irma it was right after (Hurricane) Harvey, the refineries were shut down, so going into Irma we were low on fuel,” Scott said. “We are not low on fuel. We’ve been having daily calls with the oil companies, all the suppliers, so we’re not short today like we were walking into Irma. We were worried that we wouldn’t have enough fuel to make sure everybody could evacuate. That’s not true today.”

Nate has already been blamed for at least 22 deaths in Central America.

In preparing for the storm, Scott on Thursday declared a state of emergency for 29 counties along the Gulf Coast and in North Florida: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Baker, Union, Bradford, and Alachua.

Rick Scott declares state of emergency for Nate

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday declared a state of emergency in 29 Florida counties as Tropical Storm Nate seems headed for the state.

Scott issued Executive Order 17-262 declaring a state of emergency in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Baker, Union, Bradford, and Alachua counties.

The governor “is ensuring that local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm and are not hindered, delayed or prevented from taking all necessary actions to keep communities safe,” according to a press release.

“Tropical Storm Nate is headed north toward our state and Florida must be prepared,” Scott said in a statement. “While current forecast models have the storm’s center west of Florida, we must be vigilant and get prepared.

“Given these forecasts, I have declared a state of emergency … to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and ensure resources are dispersed to local communities,” he added. “By declaring an emergency in these counties, we can also ensure that there is no hindrance in the transportation of supplies and assets.”

“I urge all Floridians to remain vigilant and stay alert to local weather and news and visit FLGetAPlan.com today as we all prepare for Tropical Storm Nate. We will keep monitoring and issuing updates on Tropical Storm Nate as it approaches the Gulf Coast.”

Nervous about Nate? Municipal electric utilities are ‘ready’

Municipal electric customers in the path of Tropical Storm Nate should rest easy: Your utility is “ready.”

“While there is still much uncertainty surrounding Nate’s ultimate strength and path, Florida’s municipal electric utilities are watching it closely,” said Amy Zubaly, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association

They “are prepared to bring in power restoration resources should this storm system become a threat to Florida’s Panhandle and the public power communities located there,” she added. 

We have been in communication with our fellow public power utilities in other states that are also in the current path of Tropical Storm Nate. Our crews are ready to go to other Gulf coast states to assist them if needed and if Florida is not impacted.

 “We continue to be in close communication with Gov. Rick Scott and thank him for being helpful and proactive as we face yet another tropical storm system.”

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