Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on Thursday morning to announce that the state had requested a federal disaster declaration for 25 counties that were under a hurricane warning due to the approaching storm, Idalia, which had already made its impact felt along the Big Bend region. The governor was accompanied by Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who emphasized that the request was for an expedited major assistance declaration, with discussions regarding exact reimbursement figures to take place at a later time.
Despite the severity of the storm, which had prompted evacuations in several areas, there had been no reported deaths in Florida directly attributed to Idalia as of Thursday. Governor DeSantis and Guthrie, along with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and other officials, conducted an assessment of the damage by touring areas such as Cedar Key, Horseshoe Beach, and Steinhatchee. The governor expressed sympathy for the residents affected by the storm, acknowledging the heartbreaking loss of homes, businesses, and even churches, and the daunting task of rebuilding their lives.
According to Governor DeSantis and Guthrie, the Florida Division of Emergency Management had already completed over 275 missions related to Idalia, including power restoration and debris removal from roads and bridges. They reported that approximately 146,000 power outages had been reported statewide, but efforts were underway to restore power as quickly as possible. The majority of remaining outages were concentrated in the Big Bend region, where co-ops and linemen were working to assist in the restoration process.
Guthrie advised individuals and communities engaged in debris removal to take proper precautions and separate the waste into different piles. This would not only facilitate civilian travel and recovery efforts but also ensure that the debris could be disposed of appropriately. He emphasized the importance of documenting the damage before disposal and provided detailed instructions on how to handle different types of waste. Further information was made available on the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s website.
President Joe Biden had spoken with the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to assess the situation and provide federal support. As a result, a federal disaster declaration was approved for seven counties in Florida, including Citrus, Hamilton, Levy, Taylor, Dixie, Lafayette, and Suwannee. This would enable affected residents and businesses to access federal assistance for their recovery efforts.
In conclusion, the impact of Hurricane Idalia in Florida had triggered an expedited major assistance declaration, with the state government actively involved in assessing and responding to the damage. Efforts were underway to restore power and clear debris, while affected individuals were urged to follow proper waste disposal protocols. The support from President Biden and the subsequent federal disaster declaration would provide crucial aid to the affected counties in their recovery process.