Gov. Scott urges patience as Hurricane Irma hits state

President Trump approves major disaster declaration for Florida

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida , News4Jax.com Staff
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida was approved Sunday for federal disaster relief as the powerful, wide and deadly Hurricane Irma made its second landfall of the day.

And the system might still be more than a day from leaving the state.

Gov. Rick Scott announced that President Donald Trump approved his request for federal storm relief about 4 p.m.

The announcement came after Irma made its second Florida landfall on Marco Island, a barrier island south of Naples in Collier County, at 3:35 p.m. Irma came ashore as a Category 3 storm, with 115 mph winds.

Irma had earlier made landfall about 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key -- less than 30 miles northeast of Key West -- with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Water was reported to be covering U.S. 1 in Monroe County.

By 5 p.m., Irma had weakened to a Category 2 storm, with 110 mph maximum sustained winds. At the time, the storm was located about 5 miles north of Naples. The system had picked up its pace, moving north at 14 mph.

The National Hurricane Center reported the potential for storm surges of 5 to 15 feet along the Gulf Coast.

“The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the center said in the 5 p.m. advisory.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, 3 million homes and businesses had already experienced power outages.

Most had occurred across South Florida, according to Florida Power & Light, which was reporting crews working to restore power Sunday morning as far north as Manatee and Brevard counties.

FPL noted that more than 350,000 outages had already been restored, but that “full restoration efforts will not begin until tomorrow (Monday) given Irma's movement has slowed considerably; as a result, customers should plan for significantly prolonged outages.”

Irma had slowed to a 9 mph pace as it went through the Keys on Sunday.

Duke Energy Florida was reporting more than 15,000 outages in the Tampa Bay region Sunday afternoon.

Trump's approval of a major disaster declaration allows federal money to be used to reimburse the state and local communities for expenses tied to such things as emergency operations centers, evacuations, sheltering and debris removal.

Direct federal financial assistance will also be available for families impacted by the storm in Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough; Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

“As Hurricane Irma moves through Florida, Gov. Scott will work with President Trump and FEMA to approve more funding to additional communities affected by the storm,” the governor's office said.

Scott had placed all of Florida under a state of emergency Monday.

At least three deaths have been attributed to the storm.

One death occurred in a crash in the Keys.

Meanwhile, in Hardee County, sheriff's Deputy Julie Bridges, a 13-year veteran driving home after working at an evacuation shelter, and Sgt. Joseph Ossman, who had been with the Florida Department of Corrections for 21 years, both died in an early morning head-on crash.

Among other developments Sunday:

  • The state reduced the number of people reported to be in shelters. After announcing more than 127,000 people were in the more than 460 shelters opened throughout the state Sunday morning, the numbers were later posted at 116,000 in 530 shelters. Another 75 shelters for people with special needs had received 12,700, a number up 700 from earlier Sunday.
  • All public schools, state colleges and state universities and state government offices have been ordered closed on Monday. A number of county school districts, where schools have been converted into shelters, will remain closed later into the week.
  • There will be no Florida Lottery drawings during Hurricane Irma. Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Sunday to temporarily halt the state games. Players are advised to keep their tickets. “Makeup daily drawings will take place as soon as possible after the potentially catastrophic impacts of Hurricane Irma have passed,” the lottery said in a prepared statement. “Players already holding tickets will still be eligible to win.”
  • All Florida seaports except the Port of Pensacola had been closed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

More than 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes.

Scott said members of his family who evacuated from Naples ahead of Hurricane Irma are leaving again now that it appears the killer storm will descend on the state capital.

Scott's wife, First Lady Ann Scott, as well as his daughter, his son-in-law and grandchildren left southwest Florida and came to the state capital. Scott owns a waterfront mansion in an area that is in the path of the hurricane.

But Scott said Sunday that his daughter and grandchildren will be leaving Tallahassee to go to Washington, D.C. His daughter just gave birth to twins. Scott said it would be "tough for them if we lose power."

The governor said he doesn't know what storm preparations have taken place at the governor's mansion, located a few blocks north of the Capitol. He said he "hasn't really been there" because he has been in other parts of the state or at the state emergency operations center.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the Tampa Bay area has been closed, as have 45 airports, including all international facilities from Daytona Beach south.

The state has closed 168 state parks and 30 state forests:

  • Addison Blockhouse Historic State Park (Volusia County)
  • Alafia River State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Leon County)
  • Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park (Polk County)
  • Amelia Island State Park (Nassau County)
  • Anastasia State Park (St. Johns County)
  • Anclote Key Preserve State Park (Pinellas and Pasco counties)
  • Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park (Martin County)
  • Avalon State Park (St. Lucie County)
  • Bahia Honda State Park (Monroe County)
  • Bald Point State Park (Franklin County)
  • Big Shoals State Park (Hamilton and Columbia counties)
  • Big Talbot Island State Park (Duval County)
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (Dade County)
  • Blue Spring State Park (Volusia County)
  • Bulow Creek State Park (Flagler and Volusia counties)
  • Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park (Flagler County)
  • Caladesi Island State Park (Pinellas County)
  • Camp Helen State Park (Bay County)
  • Cayo Costa State Park (Lee County)
  • Cedar Key Museum State Park (Levy County)
  • Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve (Levy County)
  • Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park (Lee and Charlotte counties)
  • Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Collier-Seminole State Park (Collier County)
  • Colt Creek State Park (Polk County)
  • Constitution Convention Museum State Park (Gulf County)
  • Crystal River Archaeological State Park (Citrus County)
  • Crystal River Preserve State Park (Citrus County)
  • Curry Hammock State Park (Monroe County)
  • Dade Battlefield Historic State Park (Sumter County)
  • Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (Monroe County)
  • De Leon Springs State Park (Volusia County)
  • Deer Lake State Park (Walton County)
  • Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (Collier County)
  • Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park (Alachua County)
  • Don Pedro Island State Park (Charlotte County)
  • Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (Franklin County)
  • Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (Broward County)
  • Dudley Farm Historic State Park (Alachua County)
  • Dunns Creek State Park (Putnam County)
  • Econfina River State Park (Taylor County)
  • Eden Gardens State Park (Walton County)
  • Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (Wakulla County)
  • Egmont Key State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Citrus County)
  • Estero Bay Preserve State Park (Lee County)
  • Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park (Collier County)
  • Falling Waters State Park (Washington County)
  • Fanning Springs State Park (Levy County)
  • Faver-Dykes State Park (St. Johns County)
  • Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park (Nassau County)
  • Florida Caverns State Park (Jackson County)
  • Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (Monroe County)
  • Forest Capital Museum State Park (Taylor County)
  • Fort Clinch State Park (Nassau County)
  • Fort Cooper State Park (Citrus County)
  • Fort George Island Cultural State Park (Duval County)
  • Fort Mose Historic State Park (St. Johns County)
  • Fort Pierce Inlet State Park (St. Lucie County)
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Monroe County)
  • Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park (Okaloosa County)
  • Gainesville-to-Hawthorne State Trail (Alachua County)
  • Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach (Flagler County)
  • Gasparilla Island State Park (Lee County)
  • General James A. Van Fleet State Trail (Sumter, Lake and Polk counties)
  • George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park (Nassau and Duval counties)
  • Grayton Beach State Park (Walton County)
  • Haw Creek Preserve State Park (Flagler, Volusia and Putnam counties)
  • Henderson Beach State Park (Okaloosa County)
  • Highlands Hammock State Park (Highlands and Hardee counties)
  • Hillsborough River State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Honeymoon Island State Park (Pinellas County)
  • Hontoon Island State Park (Volusia and Lake counties)
  • Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (Broward County)
  • Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Columbia and Suwannee counties)
  • Ichetucknee Trace (Columbia County)
  • Indian Key Historic State Park (Monroe County)
  • Indian River Lagoon Preserve State Park (Brevard County)
  • John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (Palm Beach County)
  • John Gorrie Museum State Park (Franklin County)
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Monroe County)
  • Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Martin and Palm Beach counties)
  • Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park (Manatee County)
  • Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (Okeechobee and Osceola counties)
  • Koreshan State Historic Site (Lee County)
  • Lafayette Blue Springs State Park (Lafayette County)
  • Lake Griffin State Park (Lake County)
  • Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park (Leon County)
  • Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park (Highlands County)
  • Lake Kissimmee State Park (Polk and Osceola counties)
  • Lake Louisa State Park (Lake County)
  • Lake Manatee State Park (Manatee County)
  • Lake Talquin State Park (Leon, Liberty and Gadsden counties)
  • Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park (Jefferson County)
  • Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park (Monroe County)
  • Little Manatee River State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Little Talbot Island State Park (Duval County)
  • Long Key State Park (Monroe County)
  • Lovers Key State Park (Lee County)
  • Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park (Lake and Seminole counties)
  • Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site (Manatee County)
  • Madison Blue Spring State Park (Madison County)
  • Manatee Springs State Park (Levy County)
  • Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway (Citrus, Levy, Marion and Putnam counties)
  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Alachua County)
  • Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park (Clay County)
  • Mound Key Archaeological State Park (Lee County)
  • Myakka River State Park (Manatee and Sarasota counties)
  • Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park (Leon County)
  • Nature Coast State Trail (Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties)
  • North Peninsula State Park (Volusia County)
  • Ochlockonee River State Park (Wakulla County)
  • Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park (Okeechobee County)
  • O'Leno State Park (Alachua and Columbia counties)
  • Oleta River State Park (Dade County)
  • Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park (Baker County)
  • Orman House Historic State Park (Franklin County)
  • Oscar Scherer State Park (Sarasota County)
  • Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail (Bradford, Clay, Putnam and Union counties)
  • Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail (St. Johns County)
  • Paynes Creek Historic State Park (Hardee County)
  • Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (Alachua County)
  • Ponce de Leon Springs State Park (Holmes and Walton counties)
  • Price's Scrub (Marion County)
  • Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park (Duval County)
  • Rainbow Springs State Park (Marion County)
  • Ravine Gardens State Park (Putnam County)
  • River Rise Preserve State Park (Alachua and Columbia counties)
  • Rock Springs Run State Reserve (Orange, Lake and Seminole counties)
  • San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park (Alachua County)
  • San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park (Wakulla County)
  • San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park (Monroe County)
  • Savannas Preserve State Park (St Lucie County)
  • Seabranch Preserve State Park (Martin County)
  • Sebastian Inlet State Park (Brevard and Indian River counties)
  • Silver Springs State Park (Marion County)
  • Skyway Fishing Pier State Park (Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties)
  • South Fork State Park (Manatee County)
  • St. Andrews State Park (Bay County)
  • St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park (Martin County)
  • St. Marks River Preserve State Park (Leon and Jefferson counties)
  • St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park (Brevard and Indian River counties)
  • Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park (Hamilton and Columbia counties)
  • Stump Pass Beach State Park (Charlotte County)
  • Suwannee River State Park (Hamilton, Madison and Suwannee counties)
  • Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette and Suwannee counties)
  • T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (Gulf County)
  • Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail (Leon and Wakulla counties)
  • Terra Ceia Preserve State Park (Manatee County)
  • The Barnacle Historic State Park (Dade County)
  • Three Rivers State Park (Jackson County)
  • Tomoka State Park (Volusia County)
  • Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Walton County)
  • Torreya State Park (Liberty and Gadsden counties)
  • Troy Spring State Park (Lafayette County)
  • Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park (Levy County)
  • Washington Oaks Gardens State Park (Flagler County)
  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Hernando County)
  • Wekiwa Springs State Park (Seminole, Orange and Lake counties)
  • Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park (Pasco County)
  • Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park (Suwannee County)
  • Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park (Monroe County)
  • Wingate Creek State Park (Manatee County)
  • Withlacoochee State Trail (Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties)
  • Ybor City Museum State Park (Hillsborough County)
  • Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park (Duval County)
  • Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park (Citrus County)

All other Florida State Parks remain open at this time.

News Service of Florida