Governor DeSantis warns Floridians to monitor Dorian closely

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday met with leaders in Central Florida to discuss emergency plans as the state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian.

During an afternoon news conference at the Orange County Emergency Operations Center, DeSantis warned Floridians, particularly those in coastal counties, to take Dorian seriously. 

“You’re looking at potentially life-threatening storm surge, and that’s not something you want to ride out,” the governor said.

He recognized a statewide issue of gas stations running out of fuel; however, he insisted that there is not a fuel shortage and that the state is bringing in extra gas from Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. But getting that fuel to the pumps is proving problematic, so he has a plan in place.

“We have started doing fuel escorts of fuel trucks,” Governor DeSantis said, adding that the Florida Highway Patrol is escorting tankers.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and other County leaders say they’re ready for Hurricane Dorian. Their “all hands on deck” Emergency Operations Center level one starts Saturday.

“It’s show time for us, and we’re ready,” said Demings.

Orange County Fire Chief James Fitzgerald says they’ve increased all their staffing for Hurricane Dorian, including adding addition crews to boats and woods trucks, so they’ll be ready to deploy quickly to flooded areas.

Public Safety Director Danny Banks says the county’s storm water management crews have been lowering retention ponds, making room for all the rain expected to come since Hurricane Dorian is proving to be such a slow moving storm. And he says they’ve been helping homeowners in low-lying areas get prepared ahead of time.

“We learned from Irma, we learned where those areas are. We got a little more aggressive here in Orange County with our sand bags. This is the first year we’ve had self-service sandbag operations. It’s been going on for over a week,” Banks told reporters.

He says more than 40,000 self-service sandbags were handed out. By noon Friday they’d given out more 50,000 total. The county started with a total of 90,000, and they’ll be giving them out until they run out.

Orange County will be opening emergency shelters starting Sunday morning at 9 a.m. There will be 12 opening county wide that can hold between 5,000-6,000 people. If those fill up, county leaders say they could open more.