This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie offered Florida’s support in response to the deadly tornadoes that affected nine states in parts of the Midwest and Tennessee Valley.
The state of Florida stands ready to aid the response efforts from all impacted states. Over the weekend, FDEM coordinated with the emergency management offices of the nine affected states to identify resource gaps and offer support as needed. The state of Florida has emergency management personnel, Urban Search and Rescue Teams, ambulance strike teams and recovery disaster specialists to deploy, if requested.
The state of Florida also proactively offered assistance for any mutual aid requests
“The devastation left in the wake of the tornado outbreak over the weekend is an unthinkable tragedy, and Casey and I are keeping the victims and all impacted individuals in our prayers as initial recovery efforts begin,” said DeSantis. “The state of Florida has been communicating with our partners in the impacted states since early Saturday morning and we stand ready to provide any assistance needed during this time. We’ll continue to work with them to ensure they have the resources they need to respond.”
“The Division is keeping the victims of the tornado outbreak at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers,” said Guthrie. “The impacted states have provided support to Florida in previous disasters, and we will not hesitate to return the favor. The destruction reported so far is catastrophic and the Division will continue to work closely with our emergency management counterparts as they respond to this disaster.”
Floridians who want to support initial recovery efforts can donate to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. All donations to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund are tax-deductible and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes after donating. The relief fund is available here.
Volunteers are asked not to self-deploy to impacted areas. States impacted by the tornado outbreak include Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana and Ohio.
That offer was accepted and, on Wednesday, Florida deployed a nine-person State All-Hazards Incident Management Team comprised of individuals from the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) as well as Clay, St. Johns, and Flagler counties to Kentucky to support the tornado outbreak response efforts. The deployment team consists of an Incident Commander, Public Information Officer, Liaison Officer, Operations Section Chief, Deputy Operations Section Chief, Plans Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, and two State of Florida Liaisons. The team will be embedded in the Kentucky State Emergency Operations Center and provide operational support to the Kentucky Emergency Management division. The team is anticipating a 14-day deployment.
“Earlier this week, we made it clear that Florida would not hesitate to support states impacted by the devastating tornado outbreak,” said DeSantis. “This team is made up of dedicated public servants who are willing to work through the holidays and provide aid to a state in need. I’m proud that we’re able to deploy this team quickly and help impacted areas begin their recovery efforts.”
“Madison, Mason, Mamie, and I enjoyed the opportunity to send off these heroic individuals today,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “We are thankful for their sacrifice during the holiday season and are proud of Florida’s willingness to lend a helping hand to Kentuckians in need. Their service embodies the true Christmas spirit.”
“All-Hazards Incident Management Teams are trained to provide support where it’s needed,” said Guthrie. “They’re adaptable, qualified, and are always ready to answer the call for help. Through this deployment, we’ll continue coordinating with our emergency management partners and work to fulfill requests for assistance.”
All-Hazards Incident Management Teams are regional, multi-agency teams comprised of local law enforcement, fire and EMS, public health, emergency management, public works, and other public safety partners with standardized training and field experience in Incident Command System positions. Teams are trained to support incidents that extend beyond one operational period and are credentialed to serve in different positions through FDEM.
Recent All-Hazards Incident Management Team deployments include Louisiana in response to Hurricane Ida, Mississippi in response to Hurricanes Marco and Laura, Hawaii in response to a volcanic eruption, and South Carolina in response to flooding.
FDEM is coordinating the deployment under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The EMAC is a national mutual aid system that allows states to share resources from all disciplines, protect personnel who deploy, and be reimbursed for mission related costs.