Hurricane Irma: Scott asks for volunteers to help in advance of storm
Sun Sentinel
Daniele Sweeney
September 6, 2017

Speaking from the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center in Doral on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Rick Scott asked Floridians to not only get ready, but to get ready to give back in advance of Hurricane Irma.

“We need more volunteers,” Scott said. The governor said that volunteers with Volunteer Florida, the Red Cross and other organizations are standing by, but they were not enough to provide aid in the case of a devastating direct impact on South Florida.

“This storm is bigger, stronger and faster than Hurricane Andrew,” he said.

He urged Floridians to visit to sign up for volunteering opportunities.

“Volunteers can make a huge difference,” Scott said. “This storm has the potential to devastate our great state.”

Tolls have been suspended on Florida roads in preparation for evacuations. Weight restrictions have also been lifted throughout the state, to allow trucks to deliver emergency supplies as quickly as possible. Scott said he had contacted the governors of Alabama and Georgia and asked them to lift weight restrictions as well.

Scott announced earlier Wednesday that he had deployed an additional 900 members of the Florida National Guard to begin logistical and planning work ahead of Irma’s landfall. With the 100 already in the field, that brings to 1,000 the number of National Guard troops stationed around the state. The remaining 6,000 troops will be mobilized Friday.

With reports of scuffles over water at several markets in South Florida and long lines for gas, Scott also asked Floridians to take only what they need to supply their families.

State officials are also conducting inspections at Lake Okeechobee to check the Herbert Hoover Dike that holds back the lake water. Those inspections will increase should the water level rise past 17 feet. It’s currently almost 14 feet, but Scott said “based on rain forecasts, we have no major concerns with the dike.”

Federal aid is already en route, including disaster medical assistance teams from the Department of Health and Human Services. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, who were also at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center, urged caution and promised federal attention unlike the long waits for aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.

“This will not be like it was 25 years ago,” Nelson said.

This story will be updated. Check back for more information.