Oct 2, 2022
DeSantis gives Hurricane Ian update Transcript
Ian made landfall southwest Florida as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., swamping streets with water and smashing trees along the coast. Read the transcript here.
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Governor DeSantis: (00:00)
… Going on in some of the neighborhoods right here in this part of Florida. So we understand that they’re working on connectivity, we understand they’re working on cell phone service, we understand they’re working on getting the electrical back. We wanted to be helpful as best we could. So we’re working with Elon Musk and he’s got the Star Link satellite. So he is been repositioning those to be over this part of Florida. And we’re able to give these, I guess it comes from there to here. Then you can get the internet off this with your device. So these are really important things. So we’ve been able to bring these for use here in Hardee County by the emergency personnel and then however else they want to use it, we’re also getting another a hundred, probably about 120 over the next 24 hours. And we will provide some here, but you can put those in different parts of the community and people could then connect if they’re in close enough proximity to one of these devices.
Governor DeSantis: (00:56)
And so it’s coming from the space to here and then onto your device but you can’t get the connectivity straight from your device, from the satellite unless you have these things. So these things are very, very important and we’re happy to be able to bring that here. And then hopefully that will assist with some of the connectivity issues. I know people are working really hard to get all the services back online, but in the intervening period, we want to make sure that you have the support here. So I want to thank everybody who’s been involved in this effort. We’ve got people down here in Hardee County from all over the state helping out. Of course, we’ve had Florida Highway Patrol, FDLE from the state, but you have your local sheriff, you’ve got your local police, first responders been very important. And then the support that they’ve gotten from people. There’s people from Oregon here in Hardee County helping out on this effort.
Governor DeSantis: (01:48)
And so it’s really, as much as you hate having to see this and go through it, people do come together and they step up. And they’ve been doing that here in a big, big way. So we’re proud of the resilience that we’ve seen here in Hardee County and I know we’ve seen it in some of the neighboring counties as well. I have your EM director who’s here, she’s going to say a few things and then we’ll have our commissioner of education, Manny Diaz, say a few things.
Speaker 2: (02:17)
Hello, thank you so much for coming. I can’t express how much honor it is for me to step up and be a voice for Hardee County residents. Hurricane Ian definitely impacted our county. It was devastating impacts. We typically don’t reach any type of serious flood stage like we did with them, but we hit 20, we hit right over 27 feet. So that caused massive flooding for people who typically wouldn’t be affected by that type of rain. They definitely were. And we had to then reach into our FDEM contacts and the support the state always gives us. We were able to obtain [inaudible 00:03:06] teams that would come in fully equipped with their own equipment, their own staff. We completed over 90 water rescues. Our damage assessment team is currently out there doing the best that they can do so that we can get a good grasp on the entire impact for our county so that we can start to plan forward our utilities.
Speaker 2: (03:29)
We’re hoping maybe by late next week we could definitely get up a good portion of our utilities. We will be opening some pods, there are points of distribution. Those locations will be able to serve and provide food to our communities. Not so much first responders. We know we got to get all of this for our first responders, but we do not want to forget our community, our residents, those who are impacted the most. We have a team of PIOs that are diligently working together collectively as a county government, our municipalities and first responder agencies. We will all be pushing out one press release. That way we have a streamlined process for information to get to our residents. Whoever needs help, we’re definitely here.
Speaker 2: (04:20)
We do want to ask that everybody, be patient, be patient with each other, be patient with us, be patient with first responders. We are all here to serve you, to make sure that we can all get back to some sense of normalcy. That’s what we all want. That’s our ultimate goal. I can’t say enough thank yous. I wish I could stand here and identify every agency that has helped us. Our Oregon team, all of the resources, volunteers, people who have just stepped up and said, Hey, I want to help. Ultimately, I can’t think the Florida Division of Emergency Management enough without hesitation. When we were going through the worst of the worst and we knew that our EOC was going to be impacted, Director Guthrie did not hesitate to send us the resources we needed because of them. We can then push through and make our recovery efforts a lot better for our community. Thank you so much.
Governor DeSantis: (05:19)
Manny Diaz: (05:20)
Thank you so much. And I was able to visit schools in Collier and Lee yesterday and had the opportunity to be with the superintendent here in Hardee and visit the shelter and see a couple of the schools. And it’s important for us to be able to get our schools back as soon as possible and get our kids back into school. And I know there’s certain tiers to that. Obviously we have to deal with the shelters first. We have to make sure that there’s power and those buildings are assessed and able to be cleaned out. But it is imperative that we get kids back in school to return to normalcy so that we can get back to teaching and learning and get the community back in their regular routine.
Manny Diaz: (06:03)
I am proud of all of our superintendents in the state as we’ve been in constant communication throughout preparation for the storm and day to day after the storm. And I’m proud to say that a lot of the districts that were affected and some that weren’t affected are already rallying to provide support to the districts that have been affected and need that help. And there are assets and personnel being sent from some of the other districts into these districts and have had that conversation with two superintendent to assess what he needs, what to get through there to make sure that the department is there and that the rest of our districts can provide that support, whether it be personnel items, forms, waivers, whatever it is. So we look forward to getting our kids back to school and back to normal. And I thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership in preparation and response to the storm.
Governor DeSantis: (06:48)
Great. I was able to look to see some of the structural damage. I saw the bridge collapse. So I have, Florida Department of Transportation is going to be doing an assessment to see what the options are to try to get that going. These things are not easy because you got to game it out, you got to do the engineering and everything. But we want to make sure that the infrastructure gets back up. I don’t know what the timeline on that will be, but I know that we can get it done eventually. And you saw a lot of the traffic interrupted here because you still have a lot of standing water even on the roads. And that’s something that is, that’s obviously posing a challenge.
Governor DeSantis: (07:30)
So we’re sensitive to some of the issues with the roads and the bridges. We had a couple main bridges knocked out over in southwest Florida as well. And it’s just something that we’re going to have to take head on, certainly in the short term, to figure out if there’s a temporary solution. And sometimes you just got to rebuild it and we’re happy to do that. But we understand that it’s causing a lot of problems just in terms of the normal ingress and egress of traffic in this area. Okay. Anybody have any questions? Yes,
Speaker 3: (08:06)
[inaudible 00:08:06] in terms of power outages sometimes it’s an easy fix to reconnect power lines and some [inaudible 00:08:13] County, there’s bigger ground-up things that need to happen. What is your understanding of the power outages in Hardee and how will the state make sure that it doesn’t sit at [inaudible 00:08:27] 90% blank [inaudible 00:08:28]?
Governor DeSantis: (08:27)
So the question is about the power situation in Hardee. And so the briefing I received is that the actual infrastructure in Hardee that is owned, run by the utilities or the co-ops, actually did pretty good. They do have where they get their power from, their power is provided to them by Duke Energy. And so there’s going to need to be fixes that Duke is going to do to get the energy up to that point and then you can get it here. So they felt good about what they’re doing here locally and it’s really a matter of getting those other pieces in place. I actually saw one of where the hookup is and I did see it down. And so that’s when you’re not generating their own electrical here. They get it from these other companies. And so that’s what you’re seeing. So hopefully they’ll be able to do that.
Governor DeSantis: (09:19)
I know they felt that a lot of the infrastructure did better than they did in Charlie, which is obviously something that’s good to see. There’s also, FPL was with us in Fort Lauderdale, or excuse me, in Fort Myers. They are obviously have their customers, they have a lot of resources and so they’re available for some of the municipal utilities and the electrical co-ops who may need some assistance, whether it’s infrastructure or a linemen, because they’ve got huge amounts of linemen down here. So I would just encourage folks here locally, I know you’re working very hard on it. If there is something you need, let us know. We can enlist them to help. It’s a very big company. They’ve got a lot of assets. Yes.
Speaker 3: (10:08)
[inaudible 00:10:08] response you’ve got from FEMA and the federal government so far?
Governor DeSantis: (10:11)
So FEMA has, they just expanded some of the individual assistance to some of the Northeastern Florida counties, which we’re appreciative of. We had the director of FEMA traveling with us yesterday and she’s been very supportive. We’ve by and large worked well with them and we’ve also worked very well with the local partners. When you see us bring an emergency operation center to Hardee County, that doesn’t happen without very close coordination. This is a major asset for the state that was deployed here. We’ve worked very good. The fact that you have these pods today opening for distribution of food and water, that’s usually a 96 hour post-storm event. And yet this morning, Saturday, you’re doing, you’re seeing pods when the storm didn’t even leave the state of Florida until Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening. And you got massive amounts of water and food being given out in various points throughout the state.
Governor DeSantis: (11:07)
So you don’t do that without good coordination. And I think particularly the folks in Florida at the local level are experienced, our folks at the state are experienced. And I think you’re going to end up with the power situation, certainly on the private utility side, I think they’re going to have it done quicker than they’ve had for any other hurricane, which is great. Obviously we want our co-ops and the others to do similar. And then in terms of fuel, there’s fuel available. It’s just you need the electrical to run the gas stations. I mean that’s really the issue there. But we’ve got a lot of fuel stage in southwestern Florida that can be put to use if people need it. But I think the reality is the ports are open, the stuff is flowing. Again, I think it’s just a matter of the gas stations that are running the generators, they’re able to go and offer fuel, which is great.
Governor DeSantis: (11:56)
Problem is, there’s going to be long lines of that if you only have certain gas stations open. But even in Lee County, we were at one of the bridges that got knocked out and we were there. We did, we met with folks as I’m driving back through one of the communities, Publix was open yesterday morning. You had Wawa and these gas stations that were open. And I’m just trying to think, when has there been basically a category five hurricane that’s hit and then less than 48 hours later you have the supermarket open in one of the areas that was the most hardest hit?
Governor DeSantis: (12:30)
So I think that what’s happened in Florida is yes, you’ve had great state and local coordination, but then over the years the utilities have now pre-stage 40,000 for this storm. I was just at Waffle House in Charlotte. They have a whole emergency management plan and disaster response plan that they execute because when the Waffle House is open again, that means life may be getting back to normal. So they’re doing that, they’re feeding first responders and the fact that Publix was doing that. So I think almost all Publix, there’s some Publix in southwest Florida that have not yet opened, but the vast majority have opened. That’s a huge, huge thing. And so we’re really proud of the whole effort, not just government, but in the private sector as well. Yes.
Speaker 5: (13:17)
Governor, since Diane Smith, the supervisor of elections, of course, we being down during an election season, we don’t have a generator in our building. Deadlines still have to be met. They’re continuing with or without us. Is there any way that we can expedite getting a generator for our building?
Governor DeSantis: (13:42)
Have you requested one yet?
Speaker 5: (13:44)
I have spoken, but I have not gotten an inch.
Governor DeSantis: (13:48)
Okay. Well I would put in a formal request, work with your county if that’s what they want. I know they do have generators here as well, but if we could be helpful with that, we want to be helpful. Hopefully, get the power back on very soon. And so the generators will be, but I mean it is a good thing to have, especially when you have these circumstances. So well listen, we’re here to help. We want to make sure that we get all our communities back on their feet. I saw a lot of flooding… (silence) I saw a lot of really significant damage that you don’t necessarily see on the news as much as some of the other images, but this is important…