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Florida Division of Emergency Management readies for hurricane season

Reporter: Ashley French
Published: May 13, 2024
Updated: May 13, 2024

The aftermath of a natural disaster can leave years of damage to recover if unprepared. 

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is already preparing ahead of this year’s hurricane season.

WINK News joined members in a roundtable discussion held in Lee County. We spoke to Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, on hurricane preparations.

His message to Floridians is they’re prepared. 

“In the State of Florida, we always prepare every single season; I have my team prepare for at least three strikes,” said Guthrie. “If we don’t get the three, that’s great. We are prepared for it.”

Guthrie says they’ve increased their staff by hiring over 100,000 temporary workers to help when natural disaster strikes.

“We have field staff augmentation, contract staff, EOC, staff augmentation and mutual aid requests, where we bring people in from other states to help us just like we’re helping Oklahoma and Texas right now with their disasters,” said Guthrie. “We have that bigger network that we can bring people in.”

Guthrie also urges people to plan ahead of hurricane season, especially for their homes, in the event of an evacuation. 

“Their circumstances change from a brick-and-mortar house or a stick-built house to now a travel trailer; they need to have a plan that includes them evacuating with their travel trailer. It can be taken out and saved, if you will, so then they can come back post-disaster, so that’s part of the preparedness plan now.”

Guthrie said he and his members are working with other organizations to ensure that supply and demand don’t run low.

“From generators, pumps, flood control systems, all of that type of stuff we have on the shelf,” said Guthrie, “then we also have contracts to bring more of that stuff in so we are ready ahead of hurricane season for anything it may throw at us.”

Hurricane season officially starts on June 1.

A potential new disaster preparedness sales tax law is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Once signed into law, the plan is to have two disaster preparation sales tax holidays. 

Each one will be 14 days long, with the first starting on June 1, and the second will be on Aug. 26. 

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