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Florida: This Is How You Respond to a Major Disaster

Julio Rosas/Townhall

Hurricanes are something the residents of Florida have to prepare for and deal with should such a storm impact their area. Being on the ground in the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida before, during, and after Hurricane Idalia, I was able to see for myself just how seriously people took the threat of the hurricane.

The thing with Idalia is that it did not start to become a threat off of the coast of Africa, where most hurricanes like to form. Idalia started forming off of the Yucatán Peninsula, and, at first, it was projected to maybe be a tropical storm if it didn't fizzle out first.

But Saturday's predictions changed Sunday into Monday. Not only would it strengthen into a hurricane, but the storm would become a Category 4 before making landfall. And because it was forming off of Mexico, there was not a whole lot of time to prepare before it hit.

Now, of course, this is not to say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' administration was caught off guard. They were tracking the system in its early days. DeSantis stopped campaigning in early voting states to lead the effort to prepare for the storm. And prepare they did.

Thousands of Florida National Guardsmen were activated, thousands of linemen were staged in different parts of the state to repair power lines after Idalia passed, and shelters were up from Dixie County all the way down to the Tampa Bay area. State law enforcement agencies surged toward the affected areas to help with maintaining law and order.

This was the first time I covered a hurricane in person. I assumed that even though Idalia was going to hit a less populated area than Hurricane Ian, I was still going to be on the West Coast until early this week due to how busy operations were going to be running.

The night before landfall, I was in Pinellas Park with the National Guard. Once it became clear Idalia was not going to make a direct impact on Tampa Bay, our plan was to head north for our first day. When we got the situational briefing the next morning, the storm's strength still impacted where we were. Multiple mission requests came in before Idalia made landfall to our north. Read the first dispatch here.

More than 24 hours after Idalia passed, we were finally in Levy and Dixie Counties, which sustained more damage due to being in the direct path. But already, linemen were hard at work restoring power. One resident said they were without power for only six hours. While the damage was extensive, the recovery efforts were underway. Read the second dispatch here

At the end of the day, I went to where members of the National Guard were being housed at Dixie County High School. By the time I arrived, one company was already being sent home because their services were no longer needed. A few hours later, the other company also got orders to return to base.

The recovery efforts were aided by the fact Idalia hit a more remote part of the state, but it was still shocking to hear from people that no matter where they lived, pre-DeSantis, they were expecting to be without power for weeks instead of days or hours. Needless to say, I was very impressed with how the Florida government was able to be efficient and meet the acute needs of its people during a trying time. 



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