By Mike Vasilinda
May 31st, 2013
Wind and water are on the minds of emergency managers across Florida as hurricane season begins Saturday. And Governor Rick Scott is also concerned about federal budget cuts under the sequester hurting the state.
The National Weather Service is already tracking a system that has the potential to hit the Panhandle in a week. “It shows pretty much making a landfall right around maybe Mobile next Sunday,” says Tim Barry, Weather Service Meteorologist.
There are seven National Weather Service Forecast Centers in Florida. Because of federal budget cuts, two positions are already frozen in a Tallahassee office and the center could lose as many as four more meteorologists.
Jeff Evans, Senior Forecaster says, “We typically support the emergency management and decision makers all around the region. When they have to make a very significant decision for them, we try to walk them through that make sure they fully understand the threat that’s coming.”
Cuts are also hitting the National Guard. Florida National Guard has about sixty-six hundred vehicles that have all come back from overseas and are in need of maintenance the problem is the people that perform that maintenance are about to be furloughed.
The Guard will furlough a thousand people every Monday for the next eleven weeks. As first responders in an emergency, the furloughs worry Governor Rick Scott. “I hope everybody is prepared, but I’m extremely disappointed in federal government in cutting back on funding for National Guard right in the middle of hurricane season,” says Governor Rick Scott.
Both the weather service and the guard say they’ll be there to protect Floridians no matter what. But emergency managers says the cuts could make protecting people more difficult.
“It may have some impacts on long-term recovery if the furloughs continue. Naturally, we’re concerned, but we feel they’ll do the right thing when the time comes,” says Mike DeLorenzo, Florida Deputy Emergency Management Director.
Scott plans on writing Washington with his concerns.