Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on Hurricane Idalia Response
Today, Governor DeSantis visited with survivors and first responders in Big Bend counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia. The Governor was joined by Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and Secretary of Commerce Alex Kelly to tour Keaton Beach, meet with first responders and visited the business resource site, established by FloridaCommerce in conjunction with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Small Business Development Center. At the site, residents were also able to meet with representatives from Citizens Property Insurance and receive food from Chick-fil-a and Publix.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has made available Disaster Loans for Hurricane Idalia affected businesses. Applications for Business Physical Disaster Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and Home Disaster Loans are available here.
Today, six additional counties were approved under the Major Disaster Declaration for individual assistance. Residents in Citrus, Colombia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison Pasco, Suwannee, and Taylor counties can apply for post disaster Individual Assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov.
FWC officers who were providing assistance during Hurricane Idalia response and recovery efforts detained two individuals who were stealing a range of valuables, such as precious metals, vehicle batteries, a kayak, a trailer and other personal possessions on private property, from a home on Horseshoe Beach. The subjects were arrested by Dixie County Sheriff Deputies and taken to Dixie County Jail.
The Florida Disaster Fund, announced by Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, has raised nearly $3 million since activation and is currently accepting donations to support communities impacted by Hurricane Idalia. To donate, click here.
State Response Efforts
FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Idalia response.
- More than 220,000 Meals, over 150,000 water bottles, and 3,000 tarps have been distributed at the Point of Distribution (POD) location. Find a list below and at FloridaDisaster.org/Updates.
- 9 Points of Distribution (PODs) are open in impacted areas to distribute MREs, water, and tarps to residents at:
- Hamilton County
- North Hamilton Elementary School
1291 Florida Street Jennings, Florida 32053
- Ernest Courtoy Civic Center
1129 4Th Street Northwest Jasper, Florida 32052
- North Hamilton Elementary School
- Jefferson County
- 325 S Water Street Monticello, Florida 32344
- Lafayette County
- Lafayette High School
160 NE Hornet Drive Mayo, Florida 32066
- Lafayette High School
- Madison County
- Madison County High School
2649 US 90 Madison, FL 32340
- Madison County High School
- Suwannee County
- Suwannee County Fair
1302 SW 11th Street Live Oak, Florida 32064
- Suwannee Riverside Elementary
1625 Walker Avenue SW Live Oak, Florida 32064
- Branford High School
405 North Reynolds Street Branford, Florida 32008
- Suwannee County Fair
- Taylor County
- West Fraser – Perry Mill
1509 S Byron Street Parkway Perry, Florida 32348
- West Fraser – Perry Mill
- Hamilton County
- Non-profit partners have established sites for impacted residents to eat hot meals. A full list of locations can be found here.
- The Florida State Guard is distributing meals to residents in partnership with local law enforcement and Operation BBQ.
- 10 shelters are currently open across Colombia, Dixie, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties housing an overnight population of 209 individuals. For up-to-date shelter information visit FloridaDisaster.org/updates.
- The Florida National Guard (FLNG) Following Governor DeSantis’ authorization, the Florida National Guard (FLNG) is moving forward with a full activation of its service members for Hurricane Idalia response operations.
- The FLNG continues to conduct humanitarian and route clearance operations and is already engaged in commodity distribution missions (PODs). Our Guardsmen have cleared over 850 miles of roadways.
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) mutual aid team is coordinating Florida’s law enforcement response with more than 117 active missions including deployment of more than 600 Florida law enforcement officers.
- FDLE’s mutual aid team is coordinating law enforcement personnel to establish fueling stations in Madison County.
- A regional law enforcement coordination team (RLECTs) is activated in Tallahassee assisting local law enforcement agencies with needs as they arise.
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working closely with state and local emergency management agencies to deploy resources to impacted areas.
- Teams are:
- Performing 24-hour law enforcement, public safety, and security services in Perry, Dekle Beach and Keaton Beach.
- Conducting grid searches and welfare checks in communities in Suwannee Town in Dixie County road clearing missions on roads leading to Horseshoe Beach
- Assisting linemen and fire rescue personnel in Dixie County
- Escorting radio techs with mobile communications equipment to Cedar Key tower
- Performing safety and welfare checks in high-water areas in Steinhatchee, Dekle Beach and Keaton Beach, Cedar Key, Jena
- Surveying flooded neighborhoods west of Hwy 51 NE in Taylor County to assess any residential evacuation needs.
- Performing road-clearing missions in and around Perry.
- Assisting with a medical evacuation in Taylor County.
- The FWC has set up a hotline (888-404-3922) to report vessels lost, displaced or rendered derelict as a result of the storm. FWC officers are assessing waters in the impacted area for displaced or derelict vessels.
- The Florida Highway Patrol has activated 300 troopers and implemented 12-hour Alpha, Bravo to provide resources to impacted areas. This activation has resulted in regular days off being cancelled and 24-Hour enhanced coverage.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actively working to provide any needed assistance to drinking water, wastewater and hazardous waste facilities in the impacted areas. Outreach to these facilities to determine operation status is ongoing.
- DEP has confirmed that more than 90% of the drinking water facilities in the impacted areas are operational.
- DEP and response partners are working 1-on-1 with partially- and non-operational drinking water facilities to get them back to operational status as quickly as possible in order to meet the immediate service needs of the communities they serve. Areas under boil water advisories can be found here.
- DEP has confirmed the availability of mobile testing labs from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to expedite testing for drinking and surface water samples to protect public health. The labs are currently on stand-by as DEP assesses potential needs.
- 62 Disaster Debris Management Sites have been authorized to operate for Hurricane Idalia, including three in Taylor and Madison counties. DEP has pre-authorized an additional 12 sites for these counties and will activate them as needed.
- DEP is conducting post-storm beach surveys to determine impacts to shorelines and erosion from Hurricane Idalia. Inspectors have completed engineering assessments in Franklin, Wakulla and Levy counties. Two additional teams have mobilized to Pinellas and Manatee County. They will work south from there, based on erosion noted in the windshield surveys.
- 14 Florida State Parks strike teams have been assembled to assist with assessment and recovery efforts at impacted parks. Seven teams are on the ground today in impacted areas. Other teams will be deployed as conditions allow and needs are identified.
Health and Human Services
- The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has established four Family Resource Support Centers (FRSC) in Dixie, Madison, Taylor, and Suwannee counties. The Department has staff on site, including Hope Navigators, crisis counselors who have expertise in disaster recovery response, and public benefit eligibility specialists. More information on specific locations and hours of operation can be found online at myflfamilies.com/Idalia . To date, the FRSCs have served over 800 households in the three counties.
- DCF submitted waiver requests to assist individuals receiving supplemental nutrition assistance benefits (SNAP); once approved, information will be provided about accessing these benefits:
- Automatic SNAP replacement benefits – Households in the following counties that did not receive the early release of SNAP benefits will receive an automatic replacement of SNAP benefits: Baker, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, and Wakulla counties. Eligible recipients will have the benefits automatically added to their EBT card. There is no need for recipients to apply.
- SNAP recipients will have the ability to use their EBT card to purchase hot food. Typically, food assistance benefits can only be used to buy unprepared foods, such as breads, cereals, meats, fruits, vegetables, and poultry.
- DCF has released more than $104 million in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits early in preparation/response to Hurricane Idalia for over 327,000 households that would normally receive their September SNAP benefit between the 1st – 14th of the month. This applies to SNAP households located in one of the 49 designated counties in Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order. Eligible recipients will have the benefits automatically added to their EBT card. There is no need for recipients to apply.
- DCF has contacted all 256 licensed group homes serving children, child caring, and child placement agencies, and checked in on almost 12,000 child care centers. Only one group home remains evacuated after the storm.
- The Hope Bus is deployed and serving individuals at two locations. Services available on the Hope Bus include crisis counseling and care coordination by Hope Navigators.
- The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is staging mobile field hospitals and emergency rooms in Dixie, Taylor, Suwannee, Madison, and Lee counties.
- A mobile medical unit is operating in each of the following counties: Madison, Taylor, and Lee.
- A health medical task force is operating in each of the following counties: Taylor and Suwannee.
- A mobile medical station is operating in the following county: Dixie.
- Seven strike teams are deployed supporting ground and aerial EMS transport in Madison County.
- DOH has deployed oxygen generators to support fire rescue in Taylor and Madison Counties.
- As power is restored and homes are determined to be safe, DOH continues supporting 2 special needs shelters as clients are able to return home.
- There are nineteen (19) boil water notices in effect: Alachua (1), Charlotte (1), Columbia (1), DeSoto (1), Dixie (2), Leon (2), Levy (1), Marion (6), Sarasota (3), Taylor (1). Details on these locations can be found on the DOH website here. Instructions on safe water use during a boil water notice can be found here.
- CMS also ensures clients have access to early prescription refills. Following the storm to aid in recovery efforts, CMS and Sunshine Health are offering dental supplies, food, water, baby supplies, and hygiene supplies at 8 locations in Cedar Key, Live Oak, and Horseshoe Beach. Medical care is also available at 4 of the sites.
- DOH staff conducted site visits for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) to assess grocery stores and WIC food availability in Taylor, Madison, and Jefferson counties. Grocery stores in these counties are operational and have sufficient WIC food availability.
- The DOH and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) sent information regarding early prescription refills permitted under Executive Order 23-171. This information was sent to the public, health insurers, managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacy chains, and health care providers.
- In Dixie County, DOH is supporting door-to-door paramedicine wellness checks that provide first aid treatment or transportation for additional medical treatment as needed. Additionally, DOH staff, in partnership with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, are conducting wellness checks that provide educational health/safety information, identify health/safety risks, and connect Floridians to services.
- OIR instituted a data call to collect Hurricane Idalia catastrophe claims data and assist with determining the impact of Hurricane Idalia on Florida’s insurance industry. OIR is requiring daily catastrophe claims reporting for Hurricane Idalia starting Friday, September 1. More information regarding catastrophe claims data and reporting is available here.
- DOH Madison County has a mobile medical unit (MMU) up and running. The MMU is vital in accommodating the healthcare needs of area residents of Madison County in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. The Greenville MMU located at Haffye Hays Park, provides emergency medical care, urgent care, and primary healthcare services and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Seven strike teams are deployed supporting ground and aerial EMS transport in Madison County. Additional strike teams stand ready to be deployed as needs are assessed and monitored.
- DOH has deployed four environmental health strike teams to conduct assessments at to inspect storm damage and any health/safety risks that must be addressed in Taylor, Madison, Jefferson, and Dixie counties.
- Fourteen (14) pharmacies have reopened in Taylor, Suwannee, and Madison Counties within 48-72 hours. Open pharmacies can be found on RxOpen.org.
- Two pharmacies have reopened in Madison County. DOH continues to monitor pharmacy needs and is prepared to deploy a mobile pharmacy if needed. The open pharmacy addresses are below:
- CVS Pharmacy 407 E. Base St. Madison, FL 32340
- Winn Dixie729 W Base St. Madison, FL 32340
- The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has updated the counties reporting into the Health Facility Reporting System. An update was sent to facilities with the counties that are to continue reporting, a copy can be found here. All Residential/Inpatient Health Care Providers in these counties must submit updates on the census, bed availability, evacuation and receiving status, power outages, and generator status by 10 AM daily & when their situation changes.
- Agency surveyors have completed more than 130 on-site post-storm visits to conduct health and life safety surveys in conjunction with Attorney General’s Fraud Unit.
- On September 1, the Agency’s Bureau of Health Facility Regulation made 1,232 calls to residential healthcare providers, including hospitals, in the impacted counties.
- Medicaid Managed Care Plans are performing outreach to members impacted by the storm to ensure they are safe, and their medical needs are met. Other relief efforts by Plans include:
- Florida Healthy Kids is allowing families additional time to pay premiums and complete the renewal process, for eligibility and enrollment.
- Children’s Medical Services and Sunshine Health are offering dental supplies, food, water, baby supplies, and hygiene supplies at 8 locations in Cedar Key, Live Oak, and Horseshoe Beach. Medical care is also available at 4 of the sites.
- For health facilities with storm damage, damage assessment guidelines, are available here.
- Teledoc is providing free virtual health care services, including general medical telehealth visits, non-emergency services, and prescription refills, to Florida residents, first responders and others directly impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Call Teladoc directly at 855-225-5032.
- The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), continues to conduct post-storm outreach and follow-up of all clients, determining unmet needs, assisting those with needs to connect with and access community, state, and federal resources, and work toward getting them back to normalcy and stability.
- APD is equipping providers and partners with updated recovery assistance information to assist their members and our clients as we move through the recovery process.
- The Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is receiving daily updates from all 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout Florida. There are currently no unmet needs reported.
Infrastructure, Roads, State Closures and Outages
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is coordinating with agricultural partners to conduct damage assessment sand producers to ensure those impacted have adequate resources and support.
- For Hurricane Idalia assistance, please call the FSA Producer Hotline: 1-877-508-8364 M-F 8 am-8 pm or send an email to the FSA disaster group inbox at SM.FPAC.FSA.FLFSA.Disaster@USDA.GOV Indicate the county of loss in the Subject Line – emails sent to the disaster group inbox will receive an auto reply acknowledging receipt.
- UF/IFAS is studying the agricultural losses and damages resulting from Hurricane Idalia. Producers can share information about impacts experienced at your farm, ranch, or aquaculture operation here.
- FDACS has opened up the consumer hotline to receive complaints from consumers impacted by the Port of Tampa fuel contamination. If you believe you were sold contaminated gasoline, you can file a complaint by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA or visiting fdacs.gov.
- The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is maintaining high visibility on interstate systems, bridges, and rest areas. Motorists can report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347).
- FHP chainsaw crews, consisting of approximately 40-50 troopers responded to assist in the rapid opening of Interstate – 10 following the impact of Hurricane Idalia.
- 113 FHP Troopers have been deployed to provide support, traffic control, roadway clearing, and welfare checks throughout impacted areas in North Florida.
- 10 FHP troopers providing road security operations at request of Taylor County EOC.
- FHP is working with FDOT in support of clearing roadways and supporting county sheriffs and local police agencies.
- 40 FHP troopers responded to support traffic operations in the Cedar Key area of Levy County.
- 20 FHP troopers responding at request of Madison County Sheriffs Office to provide law enforcement support countywide.
- 25 FHP troopers providing law enforcement support on alpha/bravo shifts at the request of the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office.
- FLHSMV driver license and motor vehicle service center closures can be found here.
- Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – On August 31, crews completed all cut-and-toss operations on state roads in the impacted counties – close to 25,000 miles – within a day after Hurricane Idalia made landfall.
- FDOT crews will now move into fiscally constrained counties to assist Counties with cut-and-toss operations on local roads. They’re already working in Gilchrist, Madison, Dixie, Hamilton, Levy, Suwannee, and Taylor counties to clear these local roads.
- FDOT has added additional field workers and now has over 250 total deployed crew members to support cut and toss operations throughout our communities working to recover.
- Across the state, less than 10 traffic signals are still running temporarily on generators.
- Tolls are suspended at facilities along the West Coast of Florida until Noon on Tuesday, September 5. The facilities include the I-4 Connector, Selmon Expressway (S.R. 618), Veterans Expressway (S.R. 589), Suncoast Parkway (S.R. 589), Turnpike Mainline (I-75 to I-4), Pinellas Bayway (S.R. 679), Sunshine Skyway Bridge (U.S. 19).
- FDOT issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow expanded weight and size requirements for vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and agriculture commodities and citrus.
- For rolling updates on Florida’s airport, seaport, and transit partners, please visit local listings or www.fdot.gov/idalia.
- For rolling updates on Florida’s airport, seaport, and transit partners, please visit local listings or www.fdot.gov/idalia.
- For the most up-to-date closures, visit Florida 511, at FL511.com or on the FL511 app.
- Over 115 state parks have re-opened following Hurricane Idalia. DEP has published a storm updates webpage to keep state park visitors updated of closures: www.floridbprdastateparks.org/StormUpdates. Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at closed parks have been notified of their reservation status.
- The Florida Department of Education is consistently updating their website with school district closures, as well as State University System and Florida College System Closures. 60 school districts will be open on Tuesday.
Resources for Employees and Businesses
- FloridaCommerce, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Citizens Property Insurance, and Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are co-locating business resources for communities impacted by Hurricane Idalia. A Mobile Medical Center, supplies, and food donated by Publix and Chick-fil-A will be on site. at Horseshoe Beach Marina, 262 3rd St, Horseshoe Beach, FL 32648, business owners and employees can get in-person assistance with recovery resources starting at 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program has been activated making $20 million available for businesses impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Florida small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.
- FloridaCommerce and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey in response to Hurricane Idalia. Survey responses will allow the state to expedite Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts by gathering data and assessing the needs of affected businesses. Businesses can complete the survey online by visiting www.floridadisaster.biz/ and selecting “Hurricane Idalia” from the dropdown menu.
- Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to businesses and residents in Florida. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/ and should apply under SBA declaration # 18118.
- FloridaCommerce has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Inquiries may also be emailed to ESF18@em.myflorida.com.
- FloridaCommerce is hosting daily private sector coordination calls.
- Amazon is donating gift cards and supplies to nonprofits impacted by Hurricane Idalia.
- U-HAUL is offering 30 days of free self-storage or container use at more than 50 of its locations across the state. For more information contact the nearest participating location: bit.ly/3Ehal49.
- Visa is waiving interchange fees for donations made to the Florida Disaster Fund. They will match employee donations made in support of Florida disaster relief efforts and the Visa Small Business Team has activated their Back to Business tools to help Floridians affected by Hurricane Idalia.
- Comcast has opened 141,000 public Xfinity WiFi hotspots in areas it serves across Florida in Hurricane Idalia’s potential path for anyone to use, including non-Xfinity customers, for free.You can find a list of locations at xfinity.com/wifi.
- Verizon is waiving prepaid and postpaid domestic call/text/data usage incurred from August 30 – September 13, for Florida residents in the areas most impacted by the storm.
- Walmart purchased over $5,000 worth of supplies for the impacted communities and is donating an additional truckload of supplies to Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Perry Florida.
- Publix is sending 800 sandwiches and two pallets of water to Yankeetown and Horseshoe Beach.
- Updates on closures and business resources are consistently being updated at FloridaDisaster.Biz/CurrentDisasterUpdates.
- FDACS food safety inspectors are responding to impacted areas to conduct damage assessments and ensure the safe operation of permitted food establishments.
- Today, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Melanie S. Griffin is in Horseshoe Beach alongside FloridaCommerce, Citizens Property Insurance, and the Florida Small Business Development Center to meet with impacted licensees and educate business owners on important business recovery resources available to them through the state.
- This week, DBPR has issued 122 new contractor licenses, with 43 of these being certified or registered roofing contractor licenses.
- The DBPR Division of Regulation has performed damage assessment sweeps to look for structural damages caused by Hurricane Idalia and combat unlicensed activity in Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Hernando, Hillsborough, Madison, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, Suwannee and Union counties. Staff have also proactively called more than 1,050 licensees in impacted areas to provide critical information on the dangers of unlicensed contracting schemes. Residents can report instances of unlicensed contracting to the DBPR hotline toll-free at +1 (866) 532-1440.
- DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants emergency response teams have conducted 502 disaster inspections of hotels, motels and food service establishments in impacted areas to ensure businesses are reopening and operating safely.
- DBPR encourages Florida’s licensed contractors who are looking to help property owners in need of post-storm construction-related services to register with the Florida Disaster Contractors Network at DCNOnline.org. Once homeowners are safely able to assess their home repair needs, DBPR encourages them to log onto DCNOnline.org and search by county for a list of Florida-licensed contractors providing these services in their community.
- OIR issued an Informational Memorandum to all authorized residential property insurers to provide guidance on hurricane preparedness and response. OIR directed insurers to review all aspects of their disaster preparedness and response plans to ensure they’re in compliance with Florida law. Informational Memorandum OIR-23-05M is available here.
- Florida Realtors has activated the Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which assists Realtors, their employees and staff of local associations who have experienced damage to their primary residences or offices caused by natural disasters, including the recent landfall of Hurricane Idalia. More information can be found here.
- Secretary J. Alex Kelly signed a FloridaCommerce Emergency Order tolling deadlines related to comprehensive plan amendments, and for the revitalization of a homeowners’ association’s declaration of covenants, within the counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia, as listed in the Governor’s Executive Order.
- DBPR Emergency Order 2023-07 suspends certain provisions of section 489.113(3), Florida Statutes, in order to allow certified or registered general, building, or residential contractors to subcontract roofing work for the repair or installation of any roof type in listed counties.
- DBPR Emergency Order 2023-06 extends multiple deadlines for license renewals, and:
- Extends the deadline for the filing of monthly reports and returns by certain alcoholic beverage and tobacco license holders to October 25, 2023.
- Suspends and tolls through October 25, 2023, all final orders reflecting agency action and all-time requirements and deadlines for filing responses outlined in agency orders through September 28, 2023.
- Suspends and tolls the annual $4 mobile home fee and $1 surcharge for mobile home park owners.
- Waives the $200 fee for the issuance of temporary licenses for out-of-state veterinarians through October 25, 2023.
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has FLHSMV has issued Emergency Order 082623, which:
- waives specific requirements for commercial motor vehicles providing emergency relief; and
- waives the replacement fees for driver’s license and identification credentials, vehicle registrations and titles, vessel registrations and titles and temporary parking permits for impacted individuals.
- DEP’s Emergency Final Order also removes barriers for expediting necessary repair, replacement, and restoration of structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works, and other systems that may be damaged by the storm.
Follow @FLSERT and @GovRonDeSantis on X, formerly known as Twitter, for live updates. Visit FloridaDisaster.org/Updates for more information.