Aug 30, 2023

Hurricane Idalia Updates: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee Transcript

Hurricane Idalia Updates: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsHurricane IdaliaHurricane Idalia Updates: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Yeah. Or, Matt, for both channels, can you have her do a little more interpretation because they’re framing also for her.

Speaker 2 (00:08):

All right. I think that looks good.

Speaker 1 (00:09):

Yeah, she looks good on our end also.

Speaker 3 (00:12):


Speaker 1 (00:14):

I’m just double-checking.

Speaker 2 (00:15):

Yeah, that works.

Speaker 1 (00:18):

That works.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

Does it show on your end or not?

Speaker 3 (00:20):

Yes. Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:20):

Yeah. Yeah, we’re good.

Speaker 3 (00:22):

[inaudible 00:00:22].

Speaker 1 (00:22):

[inaudible 00:00:24].

Speaker 3 (00:22):

Yeah. [inaudible 00:00:27].

Speaker 1 (00:22):

I think we’re good up there. We need to record [inaudible 00:00:32]. I’ll do that.

[inaudible 00:01:51].

Ron DeSantis (03:37):

Good morning. Hurricane Idalia is now a Category 4 storm. That means sustained winds in excess of 130 miles per hour. The hurricane will make landfall within the next two hours in and around Taylor County in the Big Bend region of Florida. The National Hurricane Center expects storm-surge to reach up to 16 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region. That level of storm-surge is life-threatening.

Do not go outside in the midst of this storm. If it’s calm where you are, it may be because you are in the eye of the storm and those conditions will change very, very quickly. So wherever you are, hunker down and don’t take anything for granted here. This is a very, very powerful storm.

There will be impacts far beyond the eyewall, and those will extend to places like Tallahassee as well as places like Northeast Florida. We have already had 11 tornado warnings and there are more tornadoes possible, even and especially in the very outer bands of the storm, so these are places that are way outside the cone that you see on the TV screen. So please keep in mind those are very, very dangerous situations.

When the storm passes, do not drive in flooded streets and assume that all downed power lines are still hot and live. And there’s going to be people working to remedy that and we’ve got a lot of people staged, but that is very hazardous in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

We currently have 54,000 households that are out of power throughout the state of Florida, but there have been over 100,000 households that have already been restored through hard work all through the night, and those restoration efforts are ongoing any place it’s safe to do. People are there working to get that done.

As soon as it’s safe to do so, when the winds die down to a sufficient level, search and rescue efforts will begin. We have eight urban search and rescue teams staged, ready to go, 33 ambulance strike teams, 5,500 National Guardsmen. We also have the Coastguard on standby should that be necessary.

There will be an immediate effort to restore power to people who lose power. There’s 30,000-plus linemen stationed and ready to go to commence restoration efforts for local municipalities and electric co-ops. Please accept mutual aid. These are folks that can come supplement your efforts, and again, the goal is just to get everybody back online as quickly as possible.

There will be a lot of debris from this storm. There’s going to be a need to have all hands on deck to be able to do, and accordingly, our Florida Department of Transportation, we have 650 pieces of heavy equipment in trucks staged for cut-and-toss operations post storm. We anticipate there to be a lot of debris, a lot of downed trees, a lot of downed power lines, and there’s going to be a need for this. We also have 1,100 generators staged for traffic-signal restoration. We anticipate that that’s going to be a problem in a number of communities as well.

Fuel: we have 1.2 million gallons staged. We’re also arranging more fuel to come in by truck just to make up for whatever may not be coming in through the normal course of business with things like the Port of Tampa being closed. And so there’s a lot of fuel that has been arranged to be here, and our goal is to not have any major fuel interruptions.

In terms of communications, there’s 500 plus Starlink internets ready for deployment to places that need to be. There’s already been almost 250 that have been deployed. So as affected areas need that connectivity, Florida Division of Emerging Management’s going to work to provide that. They also have 3,000 generators staged and ready to surge for areas that need some power.

Now, if you’re using a generator in your personal home, please do not run that generator inside your home. Do not run it inside your garage. It must be run outside your house, it needs to be at least 20 feet away from doors and windows, and you have to point the exhaust away from your home. We do not want to see any fatalities as a result of misuse of generators.

So there’s a lot of people that are on deck right now. There’s going to be a lot of efforts as this storm passes, but this thing is hitting really within the next hour and a half, most likely. It’s going to make landfall. It is a major hurricane, as we’ve been saying it was likely to be for the last couple of days, and we just hope everybody stays safe.

Don’t put your life at risk by doing anything dumb at this point. This thing’s powerful. If you’re inside, just hunker down until it gets past you. You don’t want to be messing around with these winds. There’s going to be things flying all over the place. Obviously, if you’re in a place that’s close to the coast and you see that surge, that’s going to be legitimate surge. It’s going to be a big, big deal and it’s going to be very, very dangerous. And there we go with our power here. We’re back.

So I’m going to have Kevin Guthrie come up. We’ll also hear from Major General Haas, Admiral Schofield and then one of our Leon County commissioners, Christian Caban, will be here. So Kevin?

Kevin Guthrie (09:22):

Right on time, five-second delay kicked those generators in. So thank God that’s working. As the Governor said, the storm is here. It is here now. It is just off the coast of the Big Bend, looking like Keaton Beach is going to be the location in which we have landfall.

Stay off the roads. If you’re sheltering in place at home, stay inside your home. If you’re at a shelter or hotel, please do not leave at this time. Conditions are deteriorating outside in the impacted areas. Again, as we’ve said, shelter in place as safely as you can where you can.

We are seeing two to three foot of storm-surge in the Tampa Bay area. We’re seeing about four foot of storm-surge right now at Cedar Key. Because of the high tide which is coming, the tide is starting to come back in all the way from Tampa Bay all the way up through Apalachicola Bay, storm-surge will dramatically increase over the next couple of hours.

We are seeing a lot of tornado warnings. So far there have been 11, as the Governor has said. Of the four or five that have happened since about 3:00 AM this morning, at least three of those by our meteorologist have indicated radar-indicated tornadoes. In other words, they have seen debris in those rotations. But that will all be confirmed by the National Weather Service local forecasting offices throughout the day.

We will obviously see more tornado activity as the day goes along. If you are in a tornado warning in your area, get to an interior room free from windows. Consider putting mattresses and things over your head, even to include helmets. We can replace a lot of limbs, but we cannot replace your head, obviously. So please protect your head. Cover your head at all costs.

There will be also life-threatening winds in the Big Bend today. We could see gusts over 100 miles an hour. It could sustain winds well over 130 miles an hour as we have this Cat 4 landfall. All of these are life-threatening conditions, so please do everything you can to stay safe where you are, because first responders may not be able to reach you during the storm.

You need to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family while you’re sheltering in place. Ambulances, search and rescue teams, others, first responders will get to you just as fast as we possibly can once the winds die down to a point where we can respond to you. We do not want you putting first responders at risk unnecessarily.

In Southwest Florida, as the Governor has already mentioned, we’ve already restored over 100,000 accounts with power. I want to thank the men and women of our utilities, all three independent-owned utilities, municipal electric associations and cooperatives. Really appreciate the hard work that they’ve been doing. Even here in Tallahassee, as I was coming back to the EOC in the wee morning hours, Tallahassee Electric was out restoring power here in the capital region. So again, very much appreciate what they’re doing.

We will continue to respond as we can. Again, as I said, we’ve already started responding to issues in Southwest Florida. I talked to Representative Adam Botana from Fort Myers Beach this morning at about 3:00 AM and he has said it’s very Irma-like conditions. Not a lot of storm-surge, not a lot of damage, but certainly not Ian, but he said it’s very reminiscent of what they experienced in Hurricane Irma, so we’re happy to hear that. I’d appreciate him giving me a call and giving me a ground truth.

We are here. We are ready. We will deploy our response and recovery teams just as quickly as we possibly can. We like to move very quickly here at the division. We are ready to provide the needed support to our Big Bend communities as well as communities withstanding impacts from the other bands of the storm under the Governor’s leadership.

We have certainly amassed a great team here at the division, with state agency heads that have moved bureaucracy and red tape to get things done to where we’re restoring 100,000 accounts in less than eight hours. So please rest assured we will do whatever it takes to help our communities recover from Idalia.

We have General Haas here this morning. Again, John, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you and your team. Admiral Schofield the same way. I appreciate everything you guys are doing. They have helicopters ready to go. As soon as they’re going to be able to get back into this area, they’re going to be flying. They’re going to be in the area. So again, thank you for both of you being here. Governor.

Speaker 4 (14:02):

Go ahead.

John Haas (14:09):

Good morning, and Governor, thank you again for your leadership and your continued support of your Florida National Guard. Director Guthrie, thank you again for your tremendous work and the work of your team to protect our Florida citizens. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in the affected areas of the storm, those that are being affected already.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Florida National Guard is fully mobilized with over 5,500 soldiers and airmen ready to support hurricane response efforts. We expect that throughout the day we will be actively engaged in a multitude of missions, including search and rescue, damage assessment and route clearance. In addition, we continue to man the State Logistics Response Center and many other logistic and staging areas throughout the state of Florida, as well as support the 26 county emergency management operation centers with liaison specialists.

The Florida National Guard currently has on hand 2,400 vehicles available, including high-mobility and high-water vehicles, 14 rotary-wing aircraft with additional aviation assets coordinated with our neighboring states through a mutual aid agreement, and 23 small watercraft to support search and rescue operations and delivery of supplies to flooded areas. Your Florida National Guard is prepared to accomplish any missions required by the Department of Emergency Management, and we stand ready to support our neighbors and fellow citizens in need. Thank you.

Douglas Schofield (15:49):

All right. Good morning. Governor, Director Guthrie and fellow Floridians, the Coastguard is standing the watch to support our state and federal partners. Our highest priority is always saving lives. We pre-positioned 15 aircraft and more than 25 cutters and 20 flood response teams, prepared to respond in the wake of the storm as soon as conditions safely allow. We have pre-positioned aircraft in Miami and West Palm Beach and they’ll be the first ones to respond in the wake of the storm. Yesterday, these flight crews conducted overflights of the Western Florida area up to the Big Bend area and made call-outs to mariners to seek shelter, as well as to really familiarize ourselves with the landscape pre-storm arrival. So we’re ready to go.

We’re also assessing our flood-response teams from both inside and outside the state so we can assist both the Florida team and FEMA with the Urban Search and Rescue. We’re also ready to launch aircraft for Urgent Maritime Search and Rescue in the vicinity Tampa and the Big Bend area as the storm passes.

Our second priority is the reconstitution of ports and waterways, really critical to our marine transportation system, so urgently needed so that resources can make it to the communities in need. We expect to begin overflight damage assessment of the West Coast of Florida at first light, as soon as the storm passes and safe flight conditions allow. We will follow in the wake of the storm to also assist with impacts on the East Coast of Florida. Our buoy tenders and units will conduct port assessments and reconstitution efforts with our aids to navigation teams and the Army Corps of Engineers. Depending on sea conditions and port conditions, we hope to have those cutters near shore in the next several days.

Our third priority is environmental response to address pollution or contamination concerns as a result of the hurricane and the storm-surge flooding. The marine environmental response to mitigate and clean up potential pollutants and damaged infrastructure will be a long, committed effort.

We’re entering the response phase of this operation. This is one of the most critical and certainly the most dangerous of our operations in response to the hurricane. Because these are dangerous conditions, we need to ensure that our aircraft and rescue crews can operate safely, especially as they may encounter downed power lines, surging and receding floodwaters, and other visible and subsurface hazards. Our crews are really highly trained and fully equipped to meet this challenge.

Once again, our highest priority is to save lives here for fellow Floridians. If you need assistance but are in a safe location, we ask you to communicate your distress for first responders by dialing 911 or calling on VHF Radio Channel 16, and definitely stay where you are. We will come to you. If you don’t need assistance, we ask you to stay put in safe shelter. Please allow the emergency responders to do their job safely without interference.

Thank you to our local, state and federal partners working together in this hurricane effort. We really appreciate the partnership. Thank you.

Christian Caban (19:27):

Good morning. My name is Christian Caban. I’m a Leon County commissioner. I’m here today to assist in the briefing of our community on the impacts of Hurricane Idalia. Leon County residents, hurricane Idalia has moved slightly east of Leon County. This storm will have a lasting impact on surrounding communities. This is a historic Category 4 storm predicted to have life-threatening storm-surge, hurricane forest winds, and heavy rain.

Leon County residents, you should expect downed trees, blocked roads, power outages, flooding and overall dangerous conditions. Now more than ever, you must stay informed and follow all emergency orders. Everyone must shelter in place until the storm has passed. Please continue to follow Leon County on social media, our website and local radio station WFSU. I encourage everyone to try and hunker down and stay safe until the storm has passed.

Once the storm passes, we may have many people without power and there may be lots of debris in the roads. Public Works, along with its partners, will be working 24/7 on the recovery effort of restoring power and clearing roads. Many roads will be blocked by trees or flooding waters and dangerous to drive on. Please do not use roadways unless it is safe or an emergency. Stay home if you can. Please give first responders time to clear the way and restore power.

Folks, Leon County staff is the best of the best. I’m thankful and confident that our team will be working around the clock to restore normalcy to our community. I’d also like to thank the Governor and state staff for their ability to respond quickly in assisting not only Leon County but our neighbors on the Gulf Coast as well as we prepare for impact this morning. Thank you and God bless.

Ron DeSantis (21:22):

So we are going to have the full landfall impacts very, very shortly within the next couple of hours, most likely probably by 08:00. It’s going to make landfall on Florida’s Big Bend. So please hunker down wherever you are. Don’t mess with this storm. Don’t do anything that’s going to put yourself in jeopardy. And there’ll be a lot of help coming on the back end of this storm and we’re ready to go. As soon as it’s safe to do so, you’re going to see all these different assets deployed, so stay safe. Any questions?

Speaker 5 (22:06):

Do you feel like the state and residents here are prepared for this strength of storm, potentially into Category 5? I know we’re in Category 4.

Ron DeSantis (22:08):

I think if you look at the counties, I think that they mobilized very quickly. I think that they’ve been very clear about the storm-surge threat and all these Zone A’s across the Gulf Coast, and probably more so than any storm that I can remember in recent years. So people understand. We’ve said from the beginning it was going to probably be a major hurricane and that’s what it is, and so we’re here and we’re ready and we’re going to work hard on the back end to make sure everyone gets back up on their feet.

Speaker 6 (22:39):

Is the message to shelter in place for all 49 counties that are under the state of emergency?

Ron DeSantis (22:48):

There’s counties where the storms pass, so there may be some outer bands. That’s not necessarily saying shelter. It’s saying if you’re in the path of where the eyewall is going, at this point you got to hunker down. And so those Big Bend counties, as we get into North, Central Florida, you’re in jeopardy at that point. And so it’s really those places where it’s going to hit the eyewall, where the eyewall is coming in, to be able to not mess with it. It’s going to be a significant, significant impact.

Speaker 5 (23:19):

Any concerns about the 100 that decided to stay on Cedar Key?

Ron DeSantis (23:24):

Well, sure. I think that it’s a hazardous situation. If you end up with storm-surge that even approaches that 16 feet, the chance of surviving that is not great. You would need to be maybe even on a three-story building because it is going to rise very, very highly. Now, most people did heed the warning, but there were some that that’s what they wanted to do. And so once this passes, there will be rescue efforts done if need be, and hopefully it’s not necessary. Hopefully they knew what they were doing and they have a spot, but it’s potentially very, very hazardous when you’re talking about really anything even approaching 10 feet, but when you start talking about potentially 16 feet, that is a huge, huge deal.

Speaker 6 (24:13):

Yesterday, the expectation was that there would be 40,000 electrical linemen in state to respond to the restoration effort. The-

Ron DeSantis (24:24):

Well, we said up to. We said probably between 30 and 40, and that’s where we’re at.

Kevin Guthrie (24:29):

We’re between 30 and 40. We haven’t talked to the crews this morning because they’re actually out in the field doing what they’re doing. So I’m not so much worried about the numbers right now as much as we are getting the power restored.

Ron DeSantis (24:39):


Speaker 5 (24:42):

Do you think that Florida caught a break here in the fact that this is hitting the Big Bend and not areas like the Tampa Bay area?

Ron DeSantis (24:49):

Well, it’s not a break for the people that are in the pathway, so I think any time you have it, it’s difficult. If you just look at the way Florida is cut to have something go in this Big Bend, and it’s going to be to Georgia relatively soon, whereas we’ve had some hurricanes, like Ian, it rams into Southwest Florida and then it cut across the entire state and really impacted many, many millions of people. So you don’t want to get hit at all. You want it to be as modest in impact as is humanly possible, and I think that there’s different paths that some of these storms can take.

Ian was one that was a really bad path just because it impacted so many people. People saw the images of Fort Myers Beach, and obviously those were catastrophic images, but you would go hundreds of miles away and you had major, major flooding. You had erosion on the East Coast of Florida in places like Volusia County, the beaches and things like that. You had structures falling down because of that. So it had massive, massive impacts. And so any time you do this, you would want it to impact as small amount of places as possible.

Speaker 5 (26:05):

What do you think about Trump? He’s a resident here in Florida and he hasn’t commented on Idalia at all yet.

Ron DeSantis (26:12):

It’s not my concern. My concern is protecting the people of Florida, being ready to go, and we’ve done that. And look, in Florida, you just have to do this. I mean, this is something we put a lot of time and effort into throughout the course of each year, knowing that there’s going to be time where you’re going to have to activate it.

Now, we had a major one last year, one of the most expensive on record. We were hoping not to have any this year, that maybe we would get off lucky, but that just wasn’t in the cards, so you deal with it. But that’s been our focus, getting all this stuff ramped up. I think the counties, by and large, I think have done a really good job with this, and there’s going to be things that are going to happen over these next few days. They’re going to require a lot of support and we want to be there to be able to support folks.

So we’ll be back with doing some more briefings, and then as soon as the storm passes, I think we’ll probably end up trying to get on the road and figure out where the worst damage is and get down there and see what we can do to be able to help those folks. Thanks.

Speaker 5 (27:14):

[inaudible 00:27:33].

Speaker 1 (27:14):

[inaudible 00:27:33].

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