Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties in response to Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico. The declaration is intended to make available resources and assistance to help families who are fleeing the destruction that has occurred in their homeland and coming to Florida.
“With families displaced by Hurricane Maria already present and still arriving in Florida, it is critical that our state is prepared to provide the resources they need upon entering our state,” said Scott. “Our state is an incredible melting pot, and the success and growth we’ve seen over the years is credited to the wonderful people that live in Florida. As Puerto Rico rebuilds, Florida remains committed to doing everything we can to help the families impacted by Hurricane Maria and aid in the recovery process.”
To assist families arriving in the state, Scott has directed the opening of three disaster relief centers to help Puerto Rican families who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria. The centers will be located at the Orlando and Miami international airports, as well as one at the Port of Miami.
The disaster relief centers will be operational beginning Tuesday and will offer all available state resources to help Puerto Rican families who are evacuating due to the destruction caused by Maria two weeks ago.
“Puerto Rico is absolutely devastated and so many families have lost everything,” Scott said in a new release issued Monday by his office.
Scott says the relief centers will be intended to help Puerto Ricans coming into Florida get matched with all the available state resources they may need, including the educational needs of families who have been displaced.
The state of emergency declaration and the announcement of the opening of the relief centers comes a day after Scott announced a variety of state resources are on standby or area being deployed to Puerto Rico.
The Florida National Guard is assisting with the response of National Guard units from across the country. Military aircraft are prepared to transport law enforcement personnel to Puerto Rico.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has coordinated a request for 1,500 law enforcement officers that are standing by for deployment to help law enforcement in Puerto Rico. Those officers are from state and local agencies, as well as from agencies in other states.
The State Emergency Response Team is working with emergency management officials in Puerto Rico to make sure the proper relief is getting through to the people who need the help.
Two million pounds of relief supplies are positioned in Tampa waiting to be flown to Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, four hangars across the Tampa and Orlando areas are full of relief supplies that are on standby for air transport.
The state’s port directors have been directed to expedite the shipment of relief supplies going through Florida ports.
The state is also prepared to accept medical patients who are in need of care. The state has already coordinated with Florida International University to host evacuees from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, 90 of which were dialysis patients.
Florida has also coordinated with private partners to secure three large transport vessels that have a combined passenger capacity of more than 7,500 individuals.