Escambia County declares state of emergency

On Saturday, Aug. 14, Escambia County declared a local state of emergency due to the potential threat of Tropical Storm Fred. Escambia County Emergency Management held another planning meeting with our partners today at 11 a.m. A local state of emergency allows the County Administrator to spend operational funds if necessary.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday evening declared a state of emergency that includes Escambia County. By declaring a state of emergency, Governor DeSantis is ensuring that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare.

As a reminder, residents are encouraged to prepare their disaster kits now, which should include seven days of food and water supplies for after the storm arrives. Residents are also encouraged to fuel all vehicles and generators, and prepare all medications needed by family and pets. Individuals should also consider having at least two emergency supply kits, one full kit at home and smaller portable kits in their workplace, vehicle or other places they spend time. Remember, this year’s disaster kit might need to look a little different if you must go to a shelter—make sure to include face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

There are currently no evacuations orders issued for Escambia County residents. However, conditions can change rapidly. It is vital that residents monitor our local media for the most up-to-date forecasts several times a day and follow any safety directives from Escambia County Emergency Management officials.

Follow these tips to prepare for a storm:

  • Know Your Zone – Go to BeReadyEscambia.com to find out which evacuation zone you are in. Sign up for alerts on BeReadyEscambia.com.
  • Know Your Home – Is it newly built – possibly rated for a hurricane? Did it sustain damage from Hurricane Sally? If so, the safest option may be to stay with friends or family. If you must go to a shelter, make sure to include face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. If you decide to evacuate, make sure to give yourself at least 16 hours of travel time to make it to your destination as there may be evacuation traffic.
  • Know Your Plan – Plan ahead to stay with loved ones, friends or stay at a hotel away from the area. Know what your evacuation route will be and keep in mind that due to recent damage from Hurricane Sally, your evacuation route might have changed. Make your plan today!
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1 thought on “Escambia County declares state of emergency

  1. So, the BIG ISSUE once again is how many people in Florida have the power to declare a state of emergency when Governor DeSantis has declared a statewide emergency (COVID-19) or now [EO 21-191] for Tropical Depression Fred covering 23 counties? In early 2020, I contacted Escambia County asking why Escambia County was declaring its own COVID-19 emergency. I did not get a clear answer. I then contacted the City Council giving them a copy of the state law that regulates emergency management, Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. I also give them a copy of Section 2-4-8 Authority of Mayor During State of Emergency. The three states of emergency mentioned in it can be issued by the President, Governor or Escambia County. This law was adopted in 2005 as Authority of City Manager During State of Emergency. It was drafted by City Attorney Fleming. It gave the City Manager (2005-2011) and later the Mayor (2011-Present) the power to exercise certain emergency management powers on behalf of the City Council initially for 30 days and then longer or less based on City Council action. The law was later recodified as Section 2-1-7. The only amendment made in 2010 was to change “city manager” to “mayor” reflecting that the new elected mayor was going to assume the appointed city manager’s administrative powers. Section 2-1-7 does not authorize the Mayor to take any actions contrary to state law. Councilwoman Myers agreed with me and asked the same question. She wanted to know what state law gave Mayor Robinson a power to declare a “local” state of emergency for COVID-19 “only” within the City of Pensacola when Governor DeSantis had already declared a “statewide” state of emergency that included all of the City of Pensacola, and all of Escambia County too. The City Council was openly disinterested. The copy of Chapter 252 that I gave the City Council did include Section 252.37 Emergency Management Powers of Political Subdivisions. Councilwoman Myers read it. So too did Councilwoman Hill. She privately asked City Administrator Wilkins to explain why Mayor Robinson had declared a “local” state of emergency separate from Governor DeSantis’ statewide declaration. In a fascinating e-mail exchange on March 26, 2020, Watkins gives Hill a lecture on the law as told to him by City Attorney Woolf. The key point, and the one I dispute, is that the Pensacola City Council has the power to authorize Mayor Robinson or a future Mayor to declare a “local” state of emergency contrary to state law, for a reason not authorized by state law and for a period of time not authorized by state law. My view was and is that state law trumps a city ordinance. Mayor Robinson, like Mayor Hayward before him, disagrees. Over on the county side, someone who cares about constitutional government, and that would only be Commissioner Underhill at present, should ask which provision in Section 252.37 Emergency Management Powers of Political Subdivisions, Florida Statutes, gives Escambia County a power to declare a “local” emergency for Tropical Depression Fred when Governor DeSantis has already declared the same emergency for 23 counties to include Escambia County. The County Code is silent on the issue. Like the City Code, the County Code does not even mention Section 252.37. Have they read it?

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