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'Don't Be Fooled,' Gov. DeSantis Warns As Isaias Weakens

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a briefing at the state emergency operations center on Hurricane Isaias, Saturday August 1st, 2020. Image: The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a briefing at the state emergency operations center on Hurricane Isaias, Saturday August 1st, 2020. Image: The Florida Channel

DeSantis warns coastal residents to expect power outages

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

In a 5 p.m. briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee DeSantis warned residents along the East Coast to brace for impacts from Isaias, even as the storm weakened slightly to a tropical storm.

"Don't be fooled by the downgrade, we do think it will be upgraded back to a hurricane later on this evening," said DeSantis.

He said 16 counties have now declared a state of emergency as Isaias approached the South East coast of Florida.

DeSantis said utilities workers have been staged around the state to restore power once the storm rolls through, including nearly 10,000 FPL workers at 16 staging areas along the East Coast.

"There have been some challenges getting out of state workers, but they are continuing to try getting in more resources and are going to work around the clock until every customer has the power back on. Even if it's tropical storm force winds, you can pretty much be assured you are going to see power outages," said DeSantis.

He said Palm Beach County had a voluntary evacuation order in place but "you probably won't see a significant number of those up and down the east coast."

"We, in the era of COVID, I think our guidance has been, look, if it's a close call, err on the side of just hunkering down rather than sending people out on the road."

FPL Chief Says COVID May Impact Power Restoration Efforts

Wilkine Brutus, WLRN

Tropical weather means rain and winds and Florida Power & Light wants everyone to remember it also brings power outages.

Speaking at a press briefing today FPL communications chief David Reuter also said COVID-19 may delay some restoration of power due to new safety measures.

"These include health screenings for all restoration personnel. So as our personnel come to our screening sites, as they come in from out of state and arrive into Florida, they'll be going through a health screening process, which will include a temperature check as well as a health screening questionnaire to ensure their safety," said Reuter.

Reuter asked customers to download the FPL app to stay up-to-date on restoration efforts.

Federal disaster declaration approved for Hurricane Isaias

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Gov. Ron DeSantis says federal funds have been approved to reimburse the state for potential impacts from Hurricane Isaias. 

The hurricane is projected to skirt the East Coast with potential impacts to parts of East Central Florida including hurricane force wind gusts and heavy rain Saturday night through Sunday. 

DeSantis declared a state of emergency for coastal counties yesterday, and sent a letter to President Trump requesting a federal disaster declaration. 

“We just got word this morning that that has been approved, and will contain reimbursement for direct federal assistance as well as all the mass care, so all the feeding and sheltering will be eligible for federal reimbursement through FEMA, which we very much appreciate.”

DeSantis said if evacuations are required, hotels may be used to shelter people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

He said hurricane shelters will also be given extra supplies of personal protective equipment as hurricane Isaias approaches. 

“The division of emergency management is sending 25 shelter kits, with PPE to counties in the path of the storm," said DeSantis.

"Each kit provides PP for up to 400 people for 96 hours and we can send more if necessary."

DeSantis said emergency officials have also talked to hospitals along the coast. He doesn’t anticipate hospitals needing to evacuate patients, but he said one hospital in Brevard County will move some of its COVID patients to a different hospital.  

The division of emergency management has also pre-staged 1.8 million meals and is identifying pre-staging areas for power restoration crews.

Twelve counties including Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Volusia Counties are also under a local state of emergency.