Florida continues Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts



(The Center Square) — Florida state officials say more than 476,000 electric customers have had their power restored 48 hours after Hurricane Idalia made landfall.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news briefing on Thursday that there were 91,000 customers in Taylor, Madison, Lafayette, Hamilton, Suwannee, Dixie and Jefferson counties that awaited restoration after Idalia made landfall on Wednesday in the Big Bend as a Category 3 storm.

The second-term Republican governor said Duke Energy would restore service to 95% of its customers in Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties.

He also said that the non-profit power associations, also known as cooperatives, are accepting help from Duke and state officials to restore electrical service to their areas.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management has shipped 200,000 Meals Ready to Eat, more than 1.2 million bottles of water and more than 900 tarps. DeSantis said there are nine pods in the affected counties handing out those goods to residents.

He also said nonprofit organizations, such as Operation Barbecue, had set up seven locations so residents could receive a hot meal in communities such as Live Oak, Perry and Cross City.

He also said all the big box stores such as Walmart, Publix, Winn Dixie and Lowe’s were open in the affected areas, some on generator power. Walmart, according to DeSantis, will have a one-stop area at its store in Perry that will have showers, food, laundry and supplies.

According to state officials, the Florida National Guard rescued 29 people and pets, along with nine Coast Guard rescues.

Also, the state says the Florida Department of Children and Families has released more than $104 million in SNAP benefits before the storm for over 327,000 households that would typically receive their September SNAP benefit between the first and 14th of the month. Those SNAP recipients are in one of the 49 counties designated in DeSantis’ executive order.

The Florida Department of Health has prepared mobile field hospitals and emergency rooms for deployment to facilities in the Big Bend. Telemedicine operator Teladoc is offering free virtual health care services, such as general medical telehealth visits, non-emergency services and prescription refills to those affected by the storm.

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