As Hurricane Irma continues to slam Florida for at least the next 36 hours, Gov. Rick Scott is already looking ahead at the massive recovery effort that will be needed to feed and shelter victims, clean up debris, restore power and repair damaged homes and businesses.
Scott on Sunday requested a major disaster declaration from President Donald Trump “to help bring important federal resources and aid to Florida” once Irma passes, he said.
“Millions of Floridians are affected by this storm,” Scott told reporters at a noon briefing in the state Emergency Operations Center. “We are doing all we can to be prepared to respond.”
Bryan Koon, the state emergency management director, said the new declaration request seeks aid for government and charitable organizations, individual assistance after the storm and future mitigation efforts.
Scott’s office said the request was submitted within a couple hours of Irma’s landfall at Cudjoe Key around 9:10 a.m. Sunday. The 12-page request covers all 67 Florida counties.
As of Sunday, the state had already spent about $75 million toward response costs, the request said. (By comparison, total state costs for Hurricane Matthew last fall reached about $268.5 million.)
Scott said Florida will receive help in recovery efforts from several states through equipment, supplies and personnel.
That will include 10,000 National Guard members from 14 states that will arrive to help after the storm, said Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun of the Florida National Guard.
All 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard were activated by Friday. Some 2,000 members are helping in about 200 shelters across the state, Calhoun said. (As of Sunday morning, 534 shelters total were open across Florida, housing 116,300 people.)
Meanwhile, Scott acknowledged the fuel shortage that Irma had caused will likely continue, despite the state’s efforts to ensure extra supply.
Ports in Tampa and Miami — which, Scott said, are the primary ways fuel is transported to the state — were closed because of the storm. “As soon as the storm passes, we will work to open those ports and get fuel here,” he said.
Scott talked with Trump by phone again earlier Sunday, as well as FEMA director Brock Long. He said he’s talked with each of them “pretty much every day.”
Scott’s schedule for the rest of Sunday is unclear. He said he’ll remain at the state Emergency Operations Center this afternoon and would decide Sunday evening where he would spend the night and the duration of the storm.
“I’ll make a decision based on how I can be helpful to the state,” he said.
Scott spent the better part of four hours of Sunday morning in back-to-back interviews with national morning shows on network and cable news channels.
Scott, who has a waterfront mansion in Naples, had evacuated his family to the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee on Friday. But now with the capital city poised to be in Irma’s path starting Sunday evening, Scott told reporters that at least some of his family will not stay here.
Scott told reporters that his daughter Allison, her husband Pierre and their five sons, including two-week old twin boys, would be evacuating to Washington, D.C. He said his wife, Ann, had not yet determined her plans.