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Biden approves Emergency Declaration for Florida

By Staff | Aug 28, 2023

Satellite image, Aug. 28. NOAA

WASHINGTON — FEMA announced today that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Florida to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts due to emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Idalia beginning Sunday and continuing.

President Joe Biden’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population and to provide appropriate assistance to save lives, to protect property and safety and to lessen or avert the threat of catastrophe in Alachua, Bay, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the effects of the emergency. Emergency protective measures limited to direct federal assistance, under the public assistance program will be provided at 75% federal funding.

Biden spoke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this morning and told him that he quickly approved the Emergency Declaration for Florida as they prepare for Idalia. FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center has also been fully activated to support any requests for federal assistance. President Biden said Florida will have his full support as they prepare for Idalia and its aftermath.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell also spoke to DeSantis this morning and emphasized the agency’s actions and readiness to support the state’s needs. Two Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee and an additional IMAT is enroute to FEMA Region 4 in Atlanta to remain on standby to support any affected areas. Additional teams are also on standby to support as needed. Urban Search and Rescue teams have activated and will be ready to respond starting tonight as well. A FEMA Staging Management Team is at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama and FEMA’s Atlanta distribution warehouse center is fully stocked with commodities that ready to transfer to the state if requested once the storm passes.

FEMA is also closely coordinating Georgia and South Carolina and stands ready to provide support as needed.

Brett H. Howard has been named Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Those living in the path of Tropical Storm Idalia should take steps now to prepare for the impacts of this storm, which is forecast to become a major hurricane before it reaches the Gulf Coast of Florida. The risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds may begin along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle as early as Tuesday.

Residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should learn their evacuation routes now, have a family emergency communications plan, charge their devices and batteries, ensure they are receiving emergency alerts and check on their neighbors, especially those who are older adults or may need additional assistance.

Residents should plan for family members, pets and service animals’ evacuation plans. People with disabilities, older adults and caregivers may need to take additional steps to plan for their individual circumstances to effectively prepare for disasters.

Anyone in the forecast path of the storm should monitor local weather alerts for updates, follow directions provided by their local officials and heed local evacuation orders.

FEMA encourages everyone to visit www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov to learn more about how to be prepared and how to protect yourself and your loved ones during emergencies. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors understand the potential affects Tropical Storm Idalia could bring to your area.

Now is the Time to Prepare

• Get Emergency Alerts: Make sure to sign up to receive weather alerts in your community and stay updated on the latest weather news from the National Weather Service.

• Gather Supplies: Have enough supplies for your household. Include medication, disinfectant supplies and pet supplies. After a hurricane, you may not have access to these supplies for days or weeks.

• Don’t drive through flood waters: Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

• Personal Safety: Listen to officials and stay off the roads if told to do so. Evacuate if told to do so.

• Evacuating: If you are in potentially affected areas, you should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a family emergency communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have plans for your family members and pets. If you are a person with disabilities, you may need to take additional steps to plan for both your needs and that of your service animal.