Sep 28, 2022
Florida Gov. DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee with Florida Division of Emergency Management Transcript
Florida Gov. DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee with Florida Division of Emergency Management. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Before exiting the Northeast Florida coast, probably sometime on Thursday. Much of Southern Florida’s already experiencing impacts from the storm as it moves closer to landfall. There have been several tornado warnings issued during the overnight hours, and we expect to see that continue today. A storm of this magnitude will produce catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the highest risk areas are ranging from Collier County up to Sarasota County. The current track has the storm making landfall in Charlotte County. If you are in any of those counties, it’s no longer possible to safely evacuate. It’s time to hunker down and prepare for this storm. This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat if a tornado was approaching your home. If you’re out on the roads, get to a safe place as soon as possible.
Speaker 1: (00:57)
There’s more than 200 shelters open in just the Southwest Florida region alone. We’re already seeing bridge closures. The Skyway Bridge is closed now going from Manatee to Pinellas Counties. There’s 40,000 power outages reported. But outside of Southwest Florida, crews are responding to those power outages. Don’t go outside in the eye of the storm. It’s still dangerous. There’s actually a calmness. If the center of the hurricane is right over you, you think maybe the storm has passed. That’s not the case. It’s still very dangerous. There’s possibilities of tornadoes. It would also be very difficult to potentially get back into your home. So, even if it seems calm, wait to make sure that the storm has actually passed. Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, I urge you to be cautious. Avoid downed power lines. Avoid standing water. Stay clear of damaged trees. If you are using a generator for power, make sure that that is being operated outside your home. Do not operate that indoors. And then, don’t drive in flooded streets. People will look and think they can drive through it, and it doesn’t work out well for them.
Speaker 1: (02:16)
As the storm has approached, we’ve already had enough winds to have local bridges closed. So the bridge on State Road 64, Manatee Avenue East has now been closed. The bridge at SR 684 and Cortez Road now has now been closed, and the John Ringling Causeway has been closed. And that is basically a function of when the winds reach a certain threshold, obviously you’re going to see more bridge use suspended, given the ferocity of this storm.
Speaker 1: (02:47)
This morning, Director Guthrie asked for additional airlift, hoist and high water vehicles from the Department of Defense in coordination with FEMA. The Department of Transportation also has 1200 personnel on standby to perform cut and toss operations. We’re bringing in supplies by plane, boat and by high water vehicle. All the airports in Southwest Florida have leave-behind teams in place, so that they will be able to get the runways in good shape once the storm has passed. We have 5000 Florida Guardsmen activated, 2000 from neighboring states. We have air assets, urban search and rescue teams stationed now in Miami that will be able to respond over to Southwest Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife, both vehicle assets, water assets and air assets, and the US Coast Guard is now stage four cutters. They also have shallow draft vessels ready to provide search and rescue assistance to the flooded areas.
Speaker 1: (03:47)
There are over 30,000 linemen staged and ready for power restoration efforts across the state of Florida, and that includes linemen across all of our major utilities, and a lot of these linemen are coming from out of state, so this is a major, major effort. Of course, the storm has to pass. There needs to be the ability for them to get in and access what they need to access, but that’s going to be a priority, and Kevin and his team are going to be working hard on that. I want to thank the 26 states that have sent support to us during this time, including Tennessee, Virginia, Montana, Louisiana, New York, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey and Georgia. We very much appreciate the assistance, and as this storm hits, we’ve got massive amounts of assets that are staged, but we’re already discussing about ways where we can get more value added support. So, most of you said call and we may be doing just that as the recovery efforts go forward.
Speaker 1: (04:46)
So, this is a major, major storm. It’s something that we knew was going to be significant. The strengthening of this over the last night has been really, really significant. It’s potentially that it could make landfall as a category five, but clearly, this is a very powerful major hurricane, that’s going to have major impacts both on impact and Southwest Florida, but then as it continues to work through the state, it is going to have major, major impacts in terms of wind, in terms of rain, in terms of flooding.
Speaker 1: (05:21)
So, this is going to be a nasty, nasty day. Two days. Probably, we think now, it will be exiting the peninsula sometime on Thursday. Yesterday, based on how fast it was moving, we thought maybe it wouldn’t be until the wee hours of Friday morning. So, this is going to be a rough stretch. We are here to respond to the areas that are affected once the storm has passed. Local emergency responders are standing by, ready to go. I think most people heeded the warnings of doing the evacuations in those very sensitive locations, but not everyone may have done that. And so, we understand that a storm of this magnitude, there’s going to be a need to begin those rescue efforts apace. Kevin Guthrie is here for an update from Florida DEM.
Speaker 2: (06:10)
Thank you, Governor. Hurricane Ian, as the governor has mentioned, is projected to make landfall this afternoon on the Charlotte County Coast. This will cause life-threatening storm surge, flooding. Tropical storm force winds will be felt throughout the entire state, and even isolated tornadoes. I urge Floridians who have made the decision to shelter in place to stay indoors and stay off the roads. You do not want to be outdoors or on the roads as a storm of this size is making landfall in your area. It is extremely dangerous. If you have battery operator or hand crank weather radios, you should be checking them now, changing the batteries, making sure that they work. Power outages will occur. If you get a weather alert for a tornado, and as the governor’s already mentioned, if you’re in the Southwest Florida area, you should make the same preparations as if it is a tornado going over your house.
Speaker 2: (07:12)
Get to an interior room free of windows. Have stuff to be able to protect your head and body from the debris, such as a blanket, sleeping bag, mattress, or even potentially helmets. If there are flash flood warnings in your area, remember, it is never safe to walk or drive through flooded areas. We continue to coordinate with all of our electrical partners. As the governor’s mentioned, there are over 30,000 lineman staged throughout the city, from North Central Florida, all the way down to Miami. As areas in South Florida and the Keys begin to experience the power outages, remember to contact your service provider, not 911, for power restoration. You can also keep your refrigerators shut. Open them as little as possible to help preserve your perishable items. If you’re using a generator, as we’ve been saying now for days, remember to keep it elevated on a hard surface, away from doors and windows, outside of garages. This will help you stay safe.
Speaker 2: (08:16)
If residents have any questions about resources for Hurricane Ian, I urge them to reach out to their local emergency management or public safety office. The storm is here. It is imminent. I can tell you it is a cat four hurricane, nearly a cat five. I know all of the emergency management directors in Southwest Florida very well. Combined, they have over 200 years of experience. They’re preparing and they’re expecting a cat five. So, please. Stay indoors, stay away from windows. Get to an interior location of your house. If anyone has any questions and they still have phone service, if you need to contact the state to ask for assistance, we have a cell assistance information line. That number is 1800-342-3557. That is 1800-342-3557. As always, please follow us on our social media at Facebook and our Twitter page @FLCert. Thank you, Governor, for your leadership.
Speaker 1: (09:27)
Speaker 3: (09:30)
Thank you, Governor. Florida’s urban search and rescue teams are staged in Miami and also in Central Florida. We have over 600 resources to bear. We have FEMA teams that have come in from out of state. We have Virginia 1 and 2 that just literally came back from Puerto Rico, in Miami also, there to assist. Out of the eight teams in Florida, five are activated. They will have search and rescue dogs. They will have swift water boats. They will go from door to door with engineers and trauma surgeons, as soon as it is safe for them to make access to those neighborhoods. They will go from door to door to administer life-saving support through their missions. When it comes to hurricane response, I will put the State of Florida up against any of the 50 states. We have the best professionals and governor. This is the largest response I’ve ever seen in this state. It’s amazing work that you and your team have done. They’ve been training for their entire lives for this mission. Please stay safe, and as the governor said, hunker down. Now is not the time to hit the roads.
Speaker 1: (10:32)
Okay, so we will be, of course, monitoring the impacts, as soon as the storm moves its way through any given part of the state. The priority is going to be to get personnel in there, to be able to launch rescue efforts, and then, obviously, pave the way so that we can bring in more supplies to the airports, clearing roads so that our linemen can get in there and restore power. So, all of that is standing by, but this is going to be a major, major storm. You’ve been following the tracks and seeing. Obviously, we knew for quite some time that it would be a major hurricane. Some of those tracks a couple days ago showed maybe it would weaken as it reached landfall further north. This one has just strengthened and strengthened, and it is the real deal. So, it’s going to do a lot of damage. So, people should be prepared for that.
Speaker 1: (11:22)
As Kevin said, there’s going to be widespread power outages, and those power outages are going to occur not just in Southwest Florida, but other portions of the state. And, of course, it’s a priority to give those linemen the ability to get in there and restore that, but people should just be prepared. There’s going to be damage to infrastructure with a storm of this nature, and power and communications and all those things can be affected. Do what you need to do to stay safe. If you are where that storm is approaching, you’re already in hazardous conditions. It’s going to get a lot worse very quickly, so please, hunker down. Treat it like a tornado, and make sure that your friends and family know where you are. We’re going to have folks that are going to be there very quickly once it’s safe, but this is the real deal. So, happy to take some questions.
Speaker 4: (12:17)
Governor, one of the things we’re hearing is that about 2.5 million Floridians have been under some kind of evacuation order. You touched on it just briefly, but do we have any concept of how many people have heeded that evacuation order?
Speaker 1: (12:29)
Well, I think if you talk to the local counties, I spoke with some of the folks in Lee County, and they said people are by and large abiding by it. Now, it’s not going to be everyone. I mean you guys know, have been in Florida, there’ll be a major hurricane approaching, there’ll be sometimes people want to go out and surf in that. You just have some people that do that. But my sense has been there’s been, by and large, interest in treating this thing very seriously across those counties.
Speaker 1: (12:57)
I mean, I do think that when you have tracks that are uncertain and this is just, it’s an inexact science, but when they see it in North Florida, then moving down north of Tampa, then Tampa, then some people think, “Well, it’s probably going to shift again, so why should I do that?” We’re at the point now, these aren’t models. This is what the storm is actually doing. And so, it is going to hit there. That’s just the nature of it. So, I think most people did. Of course, we’ve been stressing the folks in the mobile homes to make sure that they evacuated. Again, talking with the people on the local level, I think a lot of those people did. I don’t think it’s a hundred percent.
Speaker 5: (13:34)
A question for Director Guthrie. This storm, is there a lot of to Charlie in the way it’s going to cut across the state, and what is your best guess that’s going to have on the people of Central Florida, Orange, Osceola, Seminole counties?
Speaker 2: (13:53)
So, yes, it does have a Charlie-esque feel. I think one of the things that’s a little bit different with Charlie, I mean, again, on the prediction models, it may go through Central Florida at a less intensity than what we had for Hurricane Charlie, dumping more rain, as the governor mentioned earlier today, possibly speeding up just a little bit to getting out of here in 24 hours versus 36 hours. So, that’ll certainly help on the rainfall side of the house. But, again, it does have a Charlie-esque feel, but it should not be nearly as catastrophic on the winds like we saw with Hurricane Charlie all the way into Central Florida. We do expect rapid weakening, but again, there will be tropical storm force winds, strong tropical storm force winds, felt all the way through the central part and up into Northeast Florida as a part of the storm.
Speaker 5: (14:46)
Yeah, we saw a lot of trees get plowed down during Charlie, obviously.
Speaker 1: (14:51)
I think one thing for Central Florida is because we’ve had a lot of saturation, those trees are vulnerable. So, you’re going to see, trees are going to come down, even with tropical storm force winds. It does not need to be hurricane force. So, you are absolutely going to see that. That is going to cause interruptions in power, and, of course, the sheer amount of rain that’s going to come down is going to have a major impact across the center portion of the state. And even with the projected exit of the state in Volusia County, because of what it’s going to do when it gets into the Atlantic, you’re going to see impacts all the way up to Nassau County and Duval County, absolutely, in terms of some of the flooding and some of the other things that you will see because of the effects of this. So, they will be significant effects, and you will absolutely see trees, you will see power interruptions and you will see a lot of rain and water.
Speaker 6: (15:45)
With the Sunshine Skyway just closing, and I’m sure you all anticipate many more closures similar to that, is there any time you’ll anticipate them opening back up for first responders, that kind of stuff?
Speaker 1: (15:56)
So, basically, what happens on the bridges is once it reaches a certain sustained winds, it’s no longer safe to go over, so that’s when they close it. Of course, as soon as the storm passes and those winds go down, they immediately will go out and inspect the bridge to make sure there’s not structural damage and to make sure it’s safe. And then, the minute it’s safe, of course, for first responders, but also, we want to get people back into their homes. And so, people evacuated out of Pinellas County, there’s a lot of bridges that you need to take to get back to that peninsula. We want people to be able to do that. And the further it’s away from the really, really strong winds, the less likely, I think, you will see major structural damage in bridges. If you look in Charlotte, Lee counties, I mean, you’re going to end up in situations where you have a massive storm that’s impacting those bridges. A lot of these are built very well, but there’s a lot that can happen.
Speaker 1: (16:53)
One of the things that Kevin and his team have done with the Florida Department of Transportation is instruct the securing of these barges that are in the water. When we had Hurricane Sally, you had a barge that was loose, ran into the bridge, and it knocked the bridge out. So, that is something that is avoidable. And so, that’s been something. That message has been sent down, that if the storm itself knocks out a bridge, that’s mother nature and we just got to work to remedy that. But if things are being left loose that are then going to ram into the bridge and cause that to be disabled. We worked really hard to get the bridge up in Northwest Florida back, but it takes time to be able to do it when it has that type of major impact like that. So, all of that, there’s sensitivity, the need to have the bridges open as soon as possible. But there’s also sensitivity, the fact that here you have 60 mile an hour sustained winds on one of those bridges, that’s not a place that you want to be as a motorist, and quite frankly, it’s not safe for our first responders even to be using that.
Speaker 4: (17:59)
Given that there is a lot of rain, and flooding and substantial storm surge associated with this storm, does it make it different than storms we’ve had in the past? Because I believe Director Guthrie, last night, you said there’s going to be a great humanitarian lift that’s going to be needed after this, especially considering some people may not have flood insurance, and that may be the biggest issue for a lot of them. So, are there special preparations you guys are taking for this storm that you maybe haven’t taken in the past?
Speaker 1: (18:24)
I would say, and I think Kevin would agree, in terms of the resources that have been staged, we prepared for Dorian, that came very close. That was a category five that was massive. That was a massive mobilization that we did. We were ready if that would’ve hit Florida. This has been bigger in terms of the mobilization. I mean, the assets that we have are unprecedented in the state’s history. And, unfortunately, I mean, they’re going to need to be deployed, because this is a really, really significant storm. In terms of how people in the aftermath who have damage. So, one of the things with the flood insurance is there’s folks that are told, “Hey, if you’re not in a flood zone, you know don’t need flood insurance.” And so, people buy homes and they don’t get it. But the fact is that there are places outside of, quote, “flood zones,” where you absolutely, in an event like this, could be impacted. So, FEMA does have programs that can offer support, but though, FEMA’s support is not going to be equal to what you would’ve gotten in a flood insurance policy.
Speaker 1: (19:23)
And so, that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to look very seriously at in terms of what the impacts are of that. There’s a lot of folks that have a homeowner’s policy, and sometimes they’re told that that could also be for flood, and those are just different policies. The homeowner’s is from the wind, direct storm damage, the flood insurance, obviously, from rising waters. There will be debates in people’s policies about, “Okay, you had a cat four, maybe even a five hit. Yes, your home got flooded, but is that also direct storm damage and not flood? And can your homeowner insurance?” So, that’ll be good. I know Jimmy will be involved in doing that to try to help Florida consumers. But, yeah, there’s going to be a lot of fallout from this in terms of getting people back on their feet, but that’s why we’ve done the mobilization that we’ve done.
Speaker 1: (20:09)
Right now, it’s about safety. I think most Floridians made the proper precautions to keep themselves safe. The ones that didn’t that may end up in harm’s way, there’s a lot of assets that are staged, and those are going to be deployed, because we want to help people. I mean, even if they made a different decision, we’re all in this together. Going to do that. Once that life-saving part of the operation is concluded, it’s all about getting people back on their feet. And there may be some people that had nothing more than just losing power, but that’s important, to get them back to normalcy. There’s others that may have really significant structural damages to their residence. They’re going to need assistance. And so, all of that will be part of what will be, really, an unprecedented effort in the history of the state.
Speaker 1: (20:55)
I’m going to be traveling into North Central Florida today to be able to meet with a lot of the linemen that we have staged. I think it’s important to just thank them for what they’re doing, because their quick response, being able to help get people back on the grid, really helps with the entire response effort. If you have everyone, no power for weeks on end, like we have had in other storms that makes everything else that we’re doing difficult. I mean, I’ve been through these storms prior to being in elected office and it’s like, okay, you know the power’s going to go out. But then, after a while, people just start to get antsy. It’s human nature.
Speaker 1: (21:34)
And so, the fact that they’re here in really huge numbers, ready to go down and descend, they’re not only doing their job, they’re performing a public service for us. So, we’re appreciative of that and we’re going to thank them for that, and we will get them deployed. Kevin, FDOT, they’re going to make sure that those roads get cleared as soon as possible. Now, some of that is going to be very, very difficult, because you’re going to have a lot of debris. You’re going to have a lot of trees. I mean, just think. Hurricane Michael, there were some places category five. I mean, the whole forest came down almost on some of these roads. This is knocking on the door of that, and it’s going to cause a lot of damage. And so, that’s going to be a huge priority, it’s going to take a lot of manpower, but we’re going to use the resources that we need to get it done. Okay, thank you.