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Vice president on lessons learned last year, preps for this hurricane season

VP Mike Pence: Objective this year is to accelerate distribution of resources

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As 2018 hurricane season gets started, warnings to prepare are coming from everyone from City Hall to the White House.

After Vice President Mike Pence accompanied President Donald Trump to a briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters Wednesday, he spoke to News4Jax via satellite about the importance of being ready.

"Last year, as you know, Jacksonville lived through it. It was an historic hurricane season," Pence said.

Among our questions was why Jacksonville continues to wait on reimbursement money from FEMA -- 
$47 million following Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and $83 million after Hurricane Irma.

So far, Jacksonville has only received $20 million, most of that for Matthew damages.

"Make no mistake about it, and the administrator of FEMA, Brock Long, spoke of this today: With 4.7 million people applying for federal assistance in 2017, one of our objectives this year simply to accelerate the distribution of resources to individuals," Pence said. "Also, to make resources available that will help mitigate against the impact of storms in the future. We are internalizing all of that. President Trump is absolutely committed to taking the lessons of 2017, improving our response rate."

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Speaking on behalf of Trump, Pence said every first responder should be proud, and that lessons learned last year -- especially related to Hurricane Maria's devastation and loss of lives in Puerto Rico -- will lead to improvement this year.

"The reality is that the hurricane struck Puerto Rico, as I saw firsthand when we visited there, it struck Puerto Rico right at dead-center and it literally compromised the entire island," Pence said.

Pence said specific objectives have changed after what happened in Puerto Rico.

"By forward deployment of personnel, we'll be even better prepared ... to respond with rescue efforts in the midst of these storms. But also, to help with greater dispatch, to be able to rebuild and help communities recover."

Pence said the loss of even one life is too many.


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