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Emergency Update: Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on State Preparedness for Hurricane Ian

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Hurricane Ian

On Monday, Hurricane Ian grew to be a Category Two storm with winds of more than 100 mph as it headed into western Cuba. Florida is where the hurricane is predicted to make landfall on Wednesday, although heavy rain and strong winds could cause problems there as early as Tuesday.

Ian may have an influence on several states, depending on the storm’s route.

In addition to the twelve pre-positioned medical assistance caches that are now staged in Florida, Direct Relief also has hurricane preparedness packs available to be accessible by nearby medical facilities stationed in Georgia, South Carolina, and along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The caches include necessary pharmaceuticals like as antibiotics, wound care supplies, insulin and diabetic management supplies, high blood pressure meds, asthma treatments, and more. Additionally, emergency supplies have been prepared and are waiting to be used in Havana, Cuba.

Over the weekend, Direct Relief and the Florida Primary Care Association had regular conversations regarding anticipated needs. In response to the association’s offer of medical aid from Direct Relief, a small number of the association’s member health organisations asked for help over the weekend in order to prepare for the storm’s effects. The group has also communicated with Florida VOAD, or Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, as well as the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

As required, Direct Relief is also prepared to provide a range of backup power solutions in addition to additional medications and supplies.

IMPACTS ON HEALTH
According to the predicted error cone for Hurricane Ian released by the NOAA National Hurricane Center on Tuesday, there are now 25 Federally Qualified Health Center administrative sites in its path. Together, such facilities treat 974,851 patients yearly, 48.6% of whom fall inside the federal poverty line.

Also disproportionately affected by disasters like hurricanes are the weaker members of society, such as children, the elderly, those without access to transportation, those with impairments, and those for whom English is a second language.

People who need to take drugs to manage their health are also at danger if they lose access to them. When there is a large frequency of acute injuries, conditions including asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure might cause trips to the emergency room.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, 4.1 percent of patients at health centres within the storm’s forecast error cone had a diagnosis of asthma (39,780 patients), 8.6 percent had a diagnosis of diabetes (84,036 patients), and 18.5 percent were being treated for hypertension (180,531 patients).

A RESPONSE HISTORY
Throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast, Direct Relief has a long history of reacting to storms, notably in Florida in 2018 with Hurricane Michael, a Category Four hurricane that wreaked havoc on multiple communities in the state’s panhandle.

Direct Relief has sent 3,620 pounds of medical supplies to 60 beneficiaries in Florida since September 1st, including community health centres and free clinics that offer medical services. The company will keep responding as the circumstance changes.

Current Watches and Warnings in Effect:

  • A Hurricane Warning has been issued for Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay.
  • A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Anclote River to the Suwannee River.
  • Tropical Storm Watches have been issued from the Suwannee River to Indian Pass, and from Jupiter Inlet to Altamaha Sound.
  • Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the Lower Keys (from the 7 Mile Bridge westward to Key West), and from Englewood southward to Flamingo.
  • A Storm Surge Warning has been issued from the Anclote River southward to Flamingo, including Tampa Bay.
  • Storm Surge Watches are in effect for the Florida Keys and mainland Monroe County, as well as far southern Miami-Dade, Collier, the Tampa Bay area, eastern Clay and Putnam counties, and the coastal areas of Charlotte, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
    • Anclote River to Longboat Key including Tampa Bay… 5-10 ft
    • Suwanee River to Anclote River… 5-8 ft
    • Longboat Key to Englewood… 5-8 ft
    • Englewood to Bonita Beach, FL… 4-7 ft
    • Bonita Beach to East Cape Sable, FL… 3-5 ft
    • Flagler/Volusia County Line to Altamaha Sound, including the St. Johns River… 2-4 ft
    • East Cape Sable to Card Sound Bridge, including Florida Bay…2-4 ft
    • Aucilla River to Suwannee River… 2-4 ft
    • Florida Keys including the Dry Tortugas… 2-4 ft
    • Indian Pass to Aucilla River… 1-3 ft

State preparation and response efforts include:

Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM)

  • FDEM has activated the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) to provide an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Ian. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557.
  • FDEM is deploying several hundred shelter support staff to address staffing needs in counties that have opened their Special Needs hurricane shelters.
  • FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Ian response.
  • The Division has received more than 500 resource requests for Hurricane Ian and fulfilled 466. Requests are currently being processed and are either en route or being mobilized. This includes the coordination of resources such as: trucks of food and water, generators and water pumps.
  • Five Florida Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams are activated, and will be prepared to deploy to impacted areas. An additional three federal USAR Teams are standing by to assist.
  • Over 27,000 power restoration personnel are on standby to assist impacted areas after the storm.
  • FDEM has begun setting up a Logistical Staging Area in Polk County and is identifying potential additional staging areas and points of distribution to ensure food and water are readily available if counties request it.
  • FDEM has loaded 360 trailers with over 2 million meals and over one million gallons of water in preparation for distribution to impacted areas.
  • FDEM is in constant communication with all 67 county emergency management offices and state agencies to coordinate protective actions and needed resources ahead of potential storm impacts.
  • FDEM is coordinating with utilities to ensure crews are prepared to respond and restore power. Utility providers have more than 25,000 linemen staged and prepared for power restoration efforts.

Florida National Guard

  • Following Governor DeSantis’ authorization, a total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen are being activated to State Active Duty and pre-positioned at armories across the state for Tropical Storm Ian response operations. 2,000 Guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also being activated to assist.
  • The Florida National Guard is currently supporting missions including staffing and supporting the State Logistics Response Center (SLRC) in Orlando.
  • In addition, the Florida Guard has mobilized and is on standby with five Route Clearance Teams and Aviation assets.
  • The Florida National Guard is well-equipped, with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats, generators and more.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)

  • FDLE’s mutual aid team is coordinating evacuation missions in Cedar Key and security for ambulance response teams who are staging prior to Hurricane Ian.

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