The Miami Herald
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Even as Hurricane Irma continued to slam Florida Sunday, Gov. Rick Scott was already looking ahead at the huge recovery effort that will be needed to feed and shelter victims, clean up debris, restore power and repair damaged homes and businesses.

Scott Sunday asked for a major disaster declaration from President Donald Trump "to help bring important federal resources and aid to Florida" once Irma passes, he said.

"Millions of Floridians are affected by this storm," Scott said at a briefing in the state Emergency Operations Center. "We are doing all we can to be prepared to respond."

Trump last week approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration Scott had requested to expedite preparations in advance of Irma.

Bryan Koon, the state emergency management director, said the new declaration request seeks aid for government and charitable organizations, individual assistance after the storm and future mitigation efforts.

As of Sunday, the state had already spent about $75 million toward response costs, the request said. (In comparison, total state costs for Hurricane Matthew last fall reached about $268.5 million.)

Scott said Florida will receive equipment, supplies and personnel from several states. That help will include 10,000 National Guard members from 14 states that will arrive to help after the storm, said Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun of the Florida National Guard.

All 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard were activated by Friday. About 2,000 members are helping in about 200 shelters across the state, Calhoun said. On Sunday, 534 shelters were open across Florida, housing 116,300 people.)

Meanwhile, Scott acknowledged that the fuel shortage that Irma had caused is likely to continue, despite the state's efforts to ensure extra supplies.

Ports in Tampa and Miami — which, Scott said, are the primary ways fuel is transported to the state — were closed because of the storm. "As soon as the storm passes, we will work to open those ports and get fuel here," he said.

Scott talked with Trump and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long by phone earlier Sunday. He said he's talked with each of them "pretty much every day."

Scott spent the better part of four hours of Sunday morning in back-to-back interviews with national morning shows on network and cable news channels.