Gov. Rick Scott has activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee to assist people coming to Florida to escape the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
The activation of the EOC is in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency offering Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) to Puerto Rican families.
It’s estimated that approximately 3,000 people are still in shelters on the island. Now, FEMA is offering to airlift victims from Puerto Rico to the United States where the federal government will provide them with temporary housing.
So far, 140,000 hurricane victims have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico since Maria caused widespread devastation to the island in September.
“I have directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to upgrade the activation status of the State Emergency Operations Center,” said Scott. “This will ensure that local, state and federal agencies are all working together and enhance the delivery of resources at the state’s Disaster Relief Centers at Miami and Orlando international airports as they prepare to assist more families with services like crisis counseling, educational resources, job placement services, medical services and help getting housing and drivers licenses.”
Scott says the activation of the EOC means the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has activated, enhancing coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.
FEMA officials say they are working officials in Florida and New York to provide temporary housing to those people who are still staying in shelters and wish to come to the U.S. mainland.
“Since Hurricane Maria made landfall and devastated Puerto Rico, Florida has taken every opportunity to help families impacted by this storm and assist Puerto Rico in its recovery,” Scott added. “Last week, I traveled to Puerto Rico for the second time since Hurricane Maria at the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló to help with their power restoration efforts.”
Scott points out that all TSA expenses and costs will be paid for directly by FEMA with federal funding. All state emergency management costs related to sheltering for displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida are 100 percent reimbursable by FEMA due to the Florida’s federal Host State Agreement.