ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – This week, Governor Ron DeSantis joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to survey the impacts of the red tide bloom affecting southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area. In response to the bloom, Governor DeSantis directed all agencies to take an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to provide resources to assist in cleanup efforts. Here is what community leaders are saying about the state’s response efforts.
“I want to thank the Governor for visiting Pinellas County and for allowing the DEP and FWC to fully commit to mitigating the red tide fish kill and for committing over $2 million in cost reimbursements to date with an openness for more as needed. Also, I want to thank the Governor for reconstituting the red tide task force in an effort to provide much more focus on policy and research. Finally, I want to thank Kelli Hammer Levy, Pinellas County Director of Public Works, for her tireless efforts in helping coordinate the mitigation response locally, working so closely with our City partners and their employees, and for working so effectively with our state partners. Our residents and businesses are the beneficiaries.” said Dave Eggers, Chairman, Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.
“I have been so impressed with the strong leadership at all levels of government on the recent red tide bloom. The Governor’s office has been great to work with, along with our Pinellas County partners, along with city leaders. This is how government is supposed to work to solve complex problems,” said Ed Montanari, Chairman, St. Petersburg City Council.
“In order to tackle the effects of red tide efficiently, you need a comprehensive and cohesive approach from all levels of government. I applaud the Governor’s leadership and his willingness to witness first-hand the effects here in Pinellas County, and do what is necessary to ensure local needs are met. Over the years, including this past session, we have appropriated millions for red tide research and mitigation, and will continue to make sure our water is safe and pristine for all Floridians to enjoy,” said Speaker Chris Sprowls.
“Our economy is our environment, and this “all hands-on deck” approach is exactly how we will get through this. It’s important to understand that the cleanup is resourced and ongoing. We thank everyone from the state agencies to our city and county workers working so hard to keep our businesses open,” said Chris Steinocher, President and CEO, St. Pete Chamber of Commerce.
“In my 14 years as president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber, this is by far the best cohesive effort from the state and local municipalities I have ever seen. I commend the governor and the legislature for their focus on water quality and the science involved in those efforts,” said Robin Miller, President and CEO, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
“As a business owner and a fourth generation St. Pete native, I want to thank the state for their quick response to the red tide bloom. As a captain out on the water, my number one priority is always the safety of the people on my boat. I’m running seven days a week and we’re seeing dolphins and other wildlife, and I’m giving memories to people that they can take home with them when they leave here on vacation. We’re open for business in St. Pete. Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for your engagement and commitment to combating red tide,” said Christian Obenshain, owner, Pier Dolphin Cruises.
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, we have a dedicated funding source to provide financial resources in response to this red tide bloom. Because of the quick response by DEP and FWC and the coordination amongst state, county and local governments, we are in a much better position than we were last week. I want to thank the Governor for his commitment to continue to assist all affected counties with cleanup efforts,” said Representative Chris Latvala.
“Since taking office Governor DeSantis has been committed to ensuring necessary funding is available for red tide events like the one we are experiencing in Tampa Bay and the Pinellas County beaches. These resources have enabled state, county and municipal officials to work quickly and effectively in their clean up efforts. Additional resources are available to ensure our local communities will have minimal impacts in their neighborhoods and on their businesses,” said Representative Nick DiCeglie.
“The full force of our state government is at work to help stem the spread of red tide and the devastation it can leave in its wake. I applaud the Governor and our local governments for working hand-in-hand to combat red tide and protect our coastal communities in the short and long term,” said Representative Linda Chaney.