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Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Highlight Private Sector Partners Supporting Recovery Efforts

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File - Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) have coordinated with private sector partners to reopen stores and ensure Floridians have the supplies they need to begin Hurricane Ian recovery efforts and support the state’s economic resiliency post-storm. DEO coordinates with the private sector before, during, and after disasters to help Florida citizens, businesses, and communities recover. Following Hurricane Ian, many of the state’s stores were able to reopen within 24 hours.
Private partners in Florida and across the nation are providing exceptional assistance for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian. Updates provided by the private sector are critical to helping Floridians respond and recover. DEO is committed to keeping Floridians informed and updates on closures, inventory supply, and supply chain information. Available updates can be found at www.FloridaDisaster.Biz/CurrentDisasterUpdates.
Private sector partners that have re-opened their doors and continue to provide updates include:
Grocery Partners
  • Publix – Publix has reopened nearly all locations in Florida, some with modified hours of operation in impacted areas. View open stores and modified store hours here. Publix Super Markets Charities is donating $1 million to nonprofit organizations, including the American Red Cross and United Way, supporting relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Ian. Simultaneously, Publix has activated a donation campaign allowing customers and associates to help people affected by the hurricane. One hundred percent of proceeds donated at checkout will go to the American Red Cross. Additionally, this past Saturday, Publix distributed nearly 8,000 gallons of water and 75,000 pounds of ice to individuals affected by Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida.
  • Southeastern Grocers (Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket) – Southeastern Grocers has reopened most of its Florida stores. View open stores and modified store hours for Winn-Dixie – here, Fresco y Más – here, and Harveys Supermarket – here. Southeastern Grocers has extended its current in-store community donation benefiting the American Red Cross and Winn-Dixie has initiated relief efforts with distributions of free water, ice, food and cleaning essentials to more than 1,100 families in the highly impacted areas of Englewood and Port Charlotte. Additionally, Winn-Dixie has activated mobile pharmacies to offer preventive vaccines and essential medications, along with food pantries to provide shelf-stable products, fresh produce, water, ice and essential cleaning supplies in affected areas where stores remain closed.
  • Walmart – Walmart has reopened many of its locations in Florida. View open stores and modified store hours here. Walmart is offering health and wellness services, food and water distributions for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian. Learn more about available services here. Walmart, Sam’s Club, and the Walmart Foundation are committing up to $6 million to Hurricane Ian recovery and relief efforts, with $1.5 million toward the Florida Disaster Fund. Walmart Transportation also positioned 400 drivers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to support recovery efforts.
Retail Partners
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement – Lowe’s reopened all stores in Florida within 48 hours of landfall and will host bucket brigade relief events to distribute free critically needed supplies to residents. Location information and hours of operation are available here. Lowe’s is donating $2 million to support relief efforts in Florida, helping disaster relief partners and nonprofit Pro customers provide emergency shelter, food, rebuilding supplies and other assistance. Lowe’s has shipped more than 2,300 truckloads across the region to keep stores well equipped with emergency supplies. More than 250 Lowe’s Emergency Response Team members have been deployed to the impacted region from stores outside of the affected area, with more than 100 additional associates scheduled to arrive this week. These specially trained associates voluntarily leave their home stores to provide additional customer support at stores, giving impacted associates a chance to focus on their families.
  • Target – All Target locations in Florida have now reopened. You can find the current status of all stores, including information on any modified hours, here. Target has committed $5 million to local and national disaster response partners, including the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, and a variety of local nonprofits. Target stores across the region are supporting local first responders and nonprofit organizations in purchasing much-needed supplies. Target is also providing financial assistance to team members experiencing hardship due to the hurricane through its Team Member Giving Fund. This fund is supported by team member donations, which Target will match dollar-for-dollar up to $3 million.
  • The Home Depot – The Home Depot has reopened all of its Florida locations, some with limited hours per the curfews in place. Location information and hours of operation are available here. The Home Depot is dedicated to helping communities prepare for disasters and giving back to communities after a disaster strikes. The Home Depot Foundation has committed up to $1 million for response and recovery to Hurricane Ian and is working with its national nonprofit partners to provide immediate relief into impacted areas.
Pharmacy Partners
  • CVS Health – CVS has reopened many of its Florida locations. Find a store near you here. CVS Health is also assisting impacted communities by supporting the Florida Disaster Fund, the World Central Kitchen and Feeding America. Learn more about their ongoing efforts here.
  • Walgreens Pharmacy – As the largest drugstore chain in Florida, the vast majority of Walgreens’ 820+ stores statewide are open and Walgreens is working hard to re-open impacted locations as quickly and safely as possible. Adjusted store hours are reflected on the Walgreens store locator, which is updated throughout the day at Walgreens.com and FindaStore and on the Walgreens mobile app. Patients can also chat with a Walgreens pharmacist using the Pharmacist Video Chat feature, which is also on our mobile app and website. Walgreens is supporting storm relief efforts in communities across Florida (and Puerto Rico), with a $1 million donation that includes $500,000 each to the Florida Disaster Fund and the American Red Cross Hurricane Fund and through in-kind donations of needed supplies.
Lodging and Restaurant Partners
  • After hearing about 23 families who evacuated from their homes in Lee County while their infants were in NICU care and their babies were transferred to hospitals in Broward County, 19 hoteliers in Broward County partnered with VISIT FLORIDA to quickly secure accommodations for every single family in need of assistance. The accommodations will be provided to the families free of charge while their babies receive life-saving medical care from Broward Health, Joe Dimaggio, Memorial Miromar, and Memorial West Hospital. Hotels donating rooms include:
    • Bahia Mar
    • Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach
    • Costa Hollywood
    • Diplomat Beach Resort
    • Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale 17th Street
    • Four Seasons Ft. Lauderdale
    • Harbor Beach
    • Hilton Garden Ft. Lauderdale Airport
    • Hollywood Beach Marriott
    • Hotel Maren Curio Collection by Hilton
    • Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
    • Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Airport
    • Renaissance Fort Lauderdale West – Plantation
    • Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale
    • Riverside Hotel
    • Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
    • The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
    • The Pelican Grand
    • W Fort Lauderdale
    • Airbnb – Airbnb has launched a special website to help Hurricane Ian Relocation efforts for impacted residents at www.Airbnb.com/HurricaneIanFlorida. The page features open (vacant and available for rent) properties that are available to be booked outside of the FEMA Disaster zones. As communities become fully restored with water and electricity, Airbnb will add more open properties to Airbnb.com/HurricaneIanFlorida. For all displaced residents, Airbnb is also working with their nonprofit partners to offer vouchers for temporary housing at Airbnb properties. Learn more about how the voucher program works here.
  • Anheuser-Busch – Anheuser-Busch is delivering twenty truckloads—more than one million cans—of emergency drinking water over 1,000 cans of drinking water to support communities recovering from Hurricane Ian. The donation of emergency drinking water will be done in partnership with Anheuser-Busch wholesaler partners to the American Red Cross operations throughout Florida, including City Beverage, Suncoast Beverage Company, and Daytona Beverages, so that they may distribute the resources to those in need.
  • Rosen Hotels and Resorts – Rosen Hotels and Resorts is activating their Florida Residents Distressed Rates to give Floridians a safe, affordable place to ride out Hurricane Ian. Evacuees can call 866-33-ROSEN (76736) to reserve a room.
  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association – The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is urging lodging establishments to relax their pet policies and to share that there are still available hotels and other lodging available from Tallahassee to Pensacola and Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.
  • VISIT Florida – VISIT Florida has activated the Emergency Accommodations Portal at Expedia.com/Florida, which is updated with the latest information on available listings.
Telecommunications Partners
  • AT&T – AT&T is waiving talk, text, and data overage charges for AT&T Postpaid & PREPAID customers with billing addresses in 828 zip codes across Florida from September 28, 2022, through October 28, 2022, to keep customers connected.
    • To assist the recovery, AT&T is now welcoming other carriers’ customers to roam on AT&T networks so they can connect, even if their carrier’s service isn’t available after the storm. Once this roaming begins, customers will automatically be connected to AT&T network.
    • At this time, only four AT&T store locations in Sarasota, Naples, Port Charlotte, and Venice are closed. All other store locations in the impacted area and around the state are open and ready to address customer needs.
  • Comcast – Comcast NBCUniversal, along with the Universal Orlando Foundation, will donate $2 million to support relief and recovery efforts in Florida following the catastrophic flooding and devastating effects of Hurricane Ian. The commitment includes $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the Florida Disaster Fund, with the remainder distributed among the Comcast NBCUniversal Employee Assistance Fund, United Way, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Team Rubicon, and American Red Cross. Additionally, Comcast has opened Xfinity WiFi hotspots in Central, North and Southwest Florida, and the Panhandle for Xfinity customers and non-customers to stay connected during and after the storm. Details are available here.
  • SpaceX – SpaceX is helping Florida deploy more than 300 Starlink units to provide high-speed satellite internet service units, enabling connectivity for recovery and first response efforts.
  • T-Mobile – T-Mobile is offering Text to Give opportunities and the most updated information from T-Mobile can be found here. Additionally, wi-fi and charging stations are available to assist Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian at the following locations:
    • West Florida State College, 8099 College Pkwy, Fort Myers FL
    • Port Charlotte Town Center Mall, 1441 Tamiani Trail, Port Charlotte
    • Ft. Myers Town Hall, 2525 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL
  • Verizon – Verizon residential and small business customers in affected ZIP codes impacted by Hurricane Ian will have access to unlimited domestic Talk, Text & Data through October 4, 2022. Click here to see View eligible zip codes here. Verizon Wireless’ crisis response team is also providing free communications support to public safety agencies responding to the hurricane, setting up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, free charging stations and other services. Verizon’s Wireless Emergency Connection Centers are available at the following locations:
    • West Florida State College, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers FL
    • Port Charlotte Town Center Mall, 1441 Tamiani Trail, Port Charlotte
    • Ft. Meyers Town Hall, 2525 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Transportation and Storage Partners
  • Uber – Uber offered round-trip rides to and from Southwest Florida shelter locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Pasco, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Orange, Brevard, Seminole, Volusia, and Osceola counties.
  • UHaul – Uhaul is offering 30 days of free storage and U-Box container usage at 43 Florida locations. Learn more here.
  • PayPal has added the Florida Disaster Fund to it’s PayPal Giving Fund. Individuals going to their website will see it listed first among causes to support. Anything given via the Giving Fund is not subject to any fees or deductions so that again, 100% of proceeds are going to the Florida Disaster Fund. This is in addition to PayPal’s Braintree service’s processing fees being waived already for Volunteer Florida website donations.
  • Wawa, Inc., and The Wawa Foundation Inc., announced the launch of a chain-wide, in-store crisis campaign designed to provide disaster relief assistance to those communities most affected by Hurricane Ian. The campaign is being held in partnership with the American Red Cross and allows customers to contribute to Hurricane Ian disaster relief by adding $1, $3, or $5 to their Wawa purchase at checkout. The Wawa Foundation will be matching the first $250,000 in customer contributions to the campaign. The campaign will run from Tuesday, October 4, to Sunday, October 16, in all of Wawa’s more than 970 stores throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, DC. All donations made through The Wawa Foundation’s campaign will be donated to the Red Cross and will be designated specifically for Hurricane Ian disaster relief efforts. As a reminder, on Friday, 9/30 Wawa announced a $500,000 donation to the Florida Disaster Fund to help aid in recovery efforts, and all Florida Wawa stores are providing free coffee and fountain beverages to all first responders in Florida, including police, fire, EMT and the National Guard for all they are doing to support and serve our communities during Hurricane Ian response and recovery efforts.
For more information about DEO, Emergency Support Function 18 (Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization), and partners’ Hurricane Ian response and recovery efforts, as well as available resources for Florida citizens and businesses, please visit www.FloridaDisaster.biz.
First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that the Florida Disaster Fund has raised nearly $35 million in the first 48 hours of activation. To read more, click here. The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to provide financial assistance to our communities as they respond to and recover from times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with public, private, and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities. To contribute, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.

North Florida News

Governor Ron DeSantis Awards $8.7 Million for Hurricane Ian Recovery Efforts and Workforce Education

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Governor Ron DeSantis. Photo: John Raoux/AP.
MATLACHA, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded $7.7 million through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant program and the Job Growth Grant Fund (JGGF) to support a large-scale rapid credentialing effort between three state colleges, two technical colleges, and Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs). Governor DeSantis also announced $1 million through the Florida Disaster Fund to organizations to support emergency management personnel, national guardsmen, and community members in the recovery process. Organizations awarded today include the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association, the Florida National Guard Foundation, and three community foundations. The Florida Disaster Fund has raised more than $55 million to support local recovery efforts.
“Today’s awards will help residents rebuild, help emergency management personnel and national guardsmen begin their recovery, and provide new employment opportunities for residents,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Under Governor DeSantis’ bold leadership, Florida will continue to see dynamic investments that create solutions and break down silos to better support communities,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle. “Today’s awards will go a long way for Southwest Florida communities that are still working to get back on their feet following Hurricane Ian, and I look forward to the opportunities these programs will create for Floridians.”
“Governor DeSantis has led an unprecedented effort to expedite recovery in the areas of our state affected by Hurricane Ian,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “The Governor’s investment will provide additional resources to connect Floridians with rewarding new careers, and we applaud the selfless service of our colleagues at CareerSource Suncoast, CareerSource Heartland, and CareerSource Southwest Florida as well as our education partners who are helping make their communities whole again.”
“Hurricane Ian caused unimaginable loss to families across Southwest Florida,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Some will have to completely start over and others will have to go to significant lengths to mitigate the financial impact. Due to the unwavering support and leadership of Governor DeSantis, this funding will allow our educational institutions to lighten the burden and transform lives through workforce education.”
Following Hurricane Ian, several high-skill and high-wage occupations like trucking and logistics, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, and diesel maintenance will be needed in the region. Funding awarded today will help students graduate with Commercial Driving Licenses and provide opportunities for short-term, high-impact training in manufacturing and technology. This initiative also focuses on the development of rapid credentialing programs in welding, logistics, and aviation maintenance throughout the impacted counties in Southwest Florida.
Funding highlights include:
$7.7 million through WIOA and the JGGF to administer funding for rapid credentialing programs.
  • State College of Florida ($2,940,000) – for the commercial driver license credentialing program.
  • Florida Southwestern College (1,980,000) – for information technology credentialing programs.
  • South Florida State College ($618,842) – for commercial driver license, welding, and tractor programs.
  • Fort Myers Technical College ($973,000) – for diesel maintenance mechanic and Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) programs.
  • Cape Coral Technical College ($200,000) – for practical nursing credentialing programs.
  • $482,000 through the Governor’s Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support credentialing program equipment needs across the five awarded educational institutions.
  • $1 million to CareerSource Suncoast, CareerSource Heartland, and CareerSource Southwest Florida to provide training and support for rapid credentialing programs.
The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with the public sector, private sector, and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities.
Organizations awarded funds from the Florida Disaster Fund today are:
  • $500,000 to the Florida National Guard Foundation.
  • $125,000 to the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association which represents emergency management professionals across the state.
  • $125,000 to the Collier County Community Foundation.
  • $125,000 to the Charlotte County Community Foundation.
  • $125,000 to Collaboratory, a community foundation helping communities across Southwest Florida.
Funds awarded to the community foundations will be utilized for local efforts to repair and rebuild homes in Southwest Florida.

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North Florida News

VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General Moody Recognizes Utility Fraud Awareness Day with Tips to Avoid Scams

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Attorney General Ashley Moody is recognizing Utility Fraud Awareness Day by issuing tips for Floridians to avoid utility scams. Fraudsters aiming to swindle consumers may pose as representatives of utility companies, and claim immediate payment is needed or the customer’s service will be cut off—or scammers may attempt to obtain personal information from an unsuspecting consumer. Attorney General Moody wants to ensure Floridians don’t fall victim to these schemes.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Utility scammers will prey on the fear of losing an important service such as power or gas in order to elicit an immediate payment. Don’t fall for these imposter scams. If you receive a suspicious message or phone call, do not provide any personal or financial information. Instead, call the utility company directly and check on the status of your account.”

Attorney General Moody suggests Floridians use the following tips to avoid utility scams:

  • Understand that scammers pressure customers to act fast, so do not rush to act on an unsolicited call or email;
  • Verify information given by purported utility representatives by checking the latest bill;
  • Never provide or confirm personal information to a solicitor, whether by phone, in-person or email, purporting to be a utility company representative;
  • Know that utility companies will not demand immediate payment;
  • When in doubt if a call is legitimate, hang up and call the utility company directly using the number listed on the company’s website;
  • Be wary of anyone demanding payment by a reloadable card, gift card or cryptocurrency; and
  • Authenticate the identity of someone posing as a utility representative who comes to the door. Look for company ID and logo, and know whether the visit is expected or not.

Consumers can report utility scams to Attorney General Moody’s office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or filing a complaint at MyFloridaLegal.com.

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North Florida News

US Senate Candidate Val Demings to Launch “Showing Up To Work Tour” in Jacksonville

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FILE - Congresswoman Val Demings delivers remarks at the 2018 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference at the Orange County Convention Center. (File photo: Willie David / Florida National News / FNN News Network)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Friday, November 4, 2022, at 7:00 pm., Chief Val Demings will launch her statewide “Showing Up to Work Tour” for the final days of the election. During the tour, Demings will hold GOTV events in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Broward County encouraging voters to show up at the polls.

Visit: valdemings.com

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