What Does A State Of Emergency Mean In Florida?
Florida is no stranger to emergencies. Ranking among them in the past, we have seen tropical storms, devastating hurricanes, noxious algae blooms, and most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. A term often brought up and proliferated on the news during these times is a “state of emergency” issued by the state’s governor.
In Tampa and Florida at large, Governor Ron DeSantis is responsible for administering this order and allocating its resources. The set of circumstances that can lead to a state of emergency in Florida are broad. Understanding why each of these events warrants a state of emergency and how it will affect Tampa can be confusing and often overwhelming, especially in a time of disaster or panic. Depending on the current issue, a state of emergency may seem like an overreaction, but it can feel like a long time coming in other circumstances. In this article, a personal injury attorney in Tampa can help decipher what precisely a state of emergency is in Florida and how it can affect your daily life.
So, what does a state of emergency mean in Florida? A state of emergency is declared by executive order if the sitting governor deems the current situation a crisis. It remains in effect until the governor feels that the threat no longer poses an issue and can end at any time. However, a statute in place states that no state of emergency may last more than 60 days unless the governor renews it. It grants DeSantis special authority to allocate resources, disrupt usual practices, and place measures to ensure sufficient aid is made available. Not only will aid become more available and previously held stockpiles of supply be dispersed, but these processes will all be prioritized and streamlined.
During this time, there is a significant increase in resources available for disaster relief, and a more streamlined process is instated to attain those resources. It also gives access to inter-jurisdictional emergency management plans and response and recovery measures that Florida has put into place specifically to aid in times of need. Since there is a loosening of the bureaucratic red tape to gain access to these resources, a state of emergency will allow much more timely access to the necessary aid.
Governor DeSantis can also call in aid from the military, specifically the Florida National Guard, as a resource for labor or maintaining order. In the case of a hurricane, troops can be seen helping repair damage and clear debris after the storm has passed. During the most recent crisis, Covid-19, the National Guard was called to maintain order at testing sites and distribute pertinent information to those waiting in line. After the National Guard has been mobilized, they will assess the emergency and declare it either a minor, major, or catastrophic disaster. If the disaster is categorized as catastrophic, a request may be sent to the President seeking other military branches’ aid. During this time, Governor DeSantis would be declared the commander in chief of the Florida National Guard.
A state of emergency also gives Florida the agency to change state business regulations and place into effect measures safeguarding its citizens from being taken advantage of. Price gouging can become an issue during times of disaster, and if a state of emergency is declared, it becomes prohibited. Commodities such as shelter, food, and ice are protected. One of the most significant protections is limiting rising gas prices necessary to power generators or keeping cars running. It also places limitations on the pricing of temporary shelters like hotels. This is especially important in a place like Tampa, where hotel pricing can already be steep.
In the same vein, businesses are also granted notable exceptions to provide their community necessary service. For example, during the global pandemic, businesses and stores deemed essential were allowed an exception to the curfew put into place. Employees were given special documentation allowing them safe travel after the deadline too. Law enforcement and safety agencies are also given special directives to maintain a safe and orderly environment. These directives can include a change in traffic control, a more significant presence in certain areas or around businesses, and resource allocation, allowing sufficient personnel to be present.
Times of crisis and disaster can be trying, to say the least. In Florida especially, they seem to be a common occurrence. Luckily a state of emergency order can be put into place to aid during these times. However, it can still be a confusing undertaking, and even the meaning of a state of emergency in Florida can be confusing. Luckily, experienced personal injury attorneys are there to answer any questions you may have or clear up any confusion. An excellent place to turn is the Law Firm of Richard A. Bokor P.A. if you have any matters of inquiry or need advice on how to proceed after a disaster.