TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, warned people not to “disaster sight-see” in areas devastated by Hurricane Ian.
During a Monday morning briefing on recovery efforts, Guthrie warned people to not go into unsafe regions to see the wreckage for themselves.
“Anybody that is just coming into an area to see the damage needs to leave the area so that first responders can do their job,” he said.
He also warned people not to fly drones in areas where first responders are conducting rescue and recovery operations.
“Helicopters will have to cease operations until we identify where the drone is being operated from and take that drone out of service,” Guthrie said.
For people who are residing in areas without power, generators must be kept outside of their homes in an elevated position away from water. Generators inside your home pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death.
The director also warned people who are in need of help to be wary of those who may try to take advantage of them during their time of need. For example, do not trust so-called volunteers who are charging for assistance; that help should be free.
“As Jimmy Patronis has said time and time again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Guthrie said. “Be careful what you may sign.”
At this time, state and federal officials are working on how to transition from emergency shelters to short-term shelters. This would consolidate shelters and allow schools in hurricane-stricken areas to reopen as soon as possible.
“We may look at a regional strategy if the individuals in those counties get down to a number where we can get to a regional shelter,” Guthrie said.
As an example, the director mentioned a 1,000-bed state facility in Pasco County that could be used as a regional shelter for the Tampa Bay area.
Guthrie said setting up people with housing will be a joint effort by FEMA and the state, with FEMA taking charge. He said Casey Tingle, Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana, has offered 500 former FEMA trailers for donation to Florida hurricane victims.
In the meanwhile, hotels will also be used for temporary sheltering assistance, but a major problem at the moment is that hotels are still without drinkable water, especially in Lee County.
Guthrie said he wants half of Lee County’s water services to be restored in 72 hours for those who are still able to get water. By next Sunday, Guthrie wants 100% restoration.
This would coincide with the expected goal to restore power to people in Lee County. Guthrie said with water restored, this would eliminate the need to truck in hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from Lakeland.