In response to the Gulf of Mexico’s oil explosion on April 21, 2010, Governor Charlie Crist has issued an executive order (10-99) by way of the State Emergency Management Act (Chapter 252, Pt III, Florida statue), by section 376.16 of the Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act  to declare a state of emergency.

In his executive order, Crist cited the threat from oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform and well, and the need to prepare to protect natural resources, beaches and other coastal ecosystems.

Six counties coastline’s appeared to be immediately threatened.  Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf Counties fall under this executive order so that federal assistance will be available, if needed. State emergency operations officials said that the easterly drifting spill is expected to reach Escambia County by Monday, with a light sheen approaching within 33 miles.

In Okaloosa County, FL- volunteers are being trained in proper way to clean birds, marine life, and anything else that could be impacted by the oil. If you would like to volunteer, contact Carole Jones at cjones@fwb.org.

The state plan calls for 30,000 feet of inflatable containment booms in the waters outside of Pensacola. But, according to a briefing report released late Friday, state officials said “booms are largely ineffective at this time due to chop which washes the spill over the booms.”

The Director of the Division of Emergency Management will be acting as the State’s Coordinating Officer and will be activating the state’s Comprehensive Energy Management Plan. Crist appointed David Halstead to the position of director on April 30. 2010.  Halstead has been serving as interim director since January.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will be the lead state agency to coordinate emergency response activities among the various state and local governments responding to this emergency.

In addition, the Adjutant General has activated the National Guard for the duration of this emergency. The National Guard will be reporting to the State Coordinating Officer for coordination and direction.

The Department of Transportation has suspended enforcement of registration requirements pursuant to section 316.545(4) and 320.0715 for commercial vehicles that enter Florida to provide emergency services, supplies, or transport equipment, supplies or personnel and has waived the hours of service requirements for such vehicles.

In accordance to Florida Statue, section 252.37(2)- additional funding is required and will be transferred from the Budget Stabilization fund and unappropriated surplus.

All Floridian residents are being asked to coordinate volunteer efforts, remain diligent and stay on alert for potential environmental impacts such as air and/or water quality as the oil sheen moves closer to the Florida coastline.

This executive order is valid for 60 days unless extended.

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