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Scott declares state of emergency

August 14, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a seven-county state of emergency due to red tide.

As a result of the executive order issued Monday, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will now be eligible for various types of emergency funds, including an additional $900,000 for Lee County.

"As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continues to feel the devastating impacts of red tide, we will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities," Scott said in a prepared statement. "Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its terrible impacts. This includes making additional FWC biologists and scientists available to assist in clean-up and animal rescue efforts, more than $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory and $500,000 for VISIT FLORIDA to establish an emergency grant program to help local communities continue to bring in the visitors that support so many Florida families and businesses.

"In addition to the emergency order, I am also directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million. While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover."

Red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs nearly every year, the release from the governor's office states. The current bloom off the coast here has been lingering off-shore since October before washing into on-shore waters where is has resulted in fish massive kills along beaches from Marco Island to Tampa Bay.

As of last Thursday, Sanibel had collected 267 tons of dead sea life from its beaches alone.

In addition to millions of fish, the bloom has resulted in the death of sea turtles, porpoises, manatees and even a whale shark on Sanibel.

Lee County has posted red tide signs at more than 170 beach access points along the Lee County coastline. The red tide signs provide details on respiratory issues, health precautions, and resources for FWC, Mote Marine and current beach conditions.

The city of Cape Coral has also posted all of its waterfront parks but that is not due to red tide, it's in reaction to the bloom of an unrelated toxic algae, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.



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