Press Releases

Miami, FL – Today, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) and U.S. Representatives Neal Dunn (R-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Al Lawson (D-FL) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging him to approve the Governor’s request for a federal fishery resource disaster declaration due to Hurricane Michael’s impacts on the Florida Panhandle and its fishing communities.  
 
The full text of the letter is below.
 
Dear Secretary Ross:
 
We write in full support of the State of Florida’s request for a federal fishery resource disaster declaration due to Hurricane Michael’s impacts on the Florida Panhandle and its fishing communities. This region of the state has long-relied upon both commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as shellfish aquaculture, to support economic growth and development. The economic effects extend far beyond the dock and provide employment opportunities and a sense of purpose and community.
 
Hurricane Michael has wreaked unparalleled devastation on the fishing industry in the Panhandle. Fishermen, aqua culturists, and harvesters have suffered extensive damage or outright destruction of vessels, facilities, equipment, traps, and other gear. These losses have been compounded by a decline in tourism both in the immediate aftermath of the storm and likely for the foreseeable future. Beyond mitigating the devastating impacts to residents’ livelihoods, we must not allow this storm to rob future generations of a vital base of future economic activity. 
 
As you consider the state’s request for a federal fishery resource disaster declaration and additional Economic Development Agency assistance, we also remind you that the significant shellfish industry in Apalachicola Bay and neighboring areas of the Gulf Coast had already been dealt a tremendous blow in 2012, for which a federal fishery resource disaster was declared in 2013. As a result, this assistance is all the more necessary now, and we respectfully request that your decision accurately reflects the grave situation along the shores of Florida’s Panhandle. We stand ready to work with you to secure the federal resources needed to fulfill this request. 
 
Sincerely,

Timeline of Rubio Actions Related to Hurricane Michael:

  • On October 22, 2018, Rubio urged Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, to repair and restore the F-22 Raptors damaged in Hurricane Michael to mission capable status as soon as possible.
  • On October 22, 2018, Rubio encouraged FEMA Administrator Brock Long to implement recommendations outlined in a report by the Office of Inspector General in order to help Florida repair and rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael, and future storms.
  • On October 16, 2018, Rubio urged Secretaries Carson, Mnuchin, and Director Mulvaney to provide federal relief for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 16, 2018, Rubio met with Franklin County and Gulf County officials to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael.     
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and met with local officials in Marianna Florida.
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to assist Florida schools affected by Hurricane Michael, particularly, by quickly approving Project SERV applications, which are critical to recovery efforts
  • On October 15, 2018, Senators Rubio and Nelson, with members of the Florida delegation, sent a letter urging FEMA Administrator Brock Long to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request to initiate the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for the remaining 13 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio and Nelson with Rep. Neal Dunn urged Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein to expedite repair and restoration operations at Tyndall Air Force Base, which was critically impacted during Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11,2018, Rubio and Nelson urged Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie to authorize increased outreach efforts and benefits assistance for Florida veterans impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11, 2018, FEMA Administrator Brock Long briefed Rubio on damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 10, 2018, ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio urgedAttorney General Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to assist communities affected by the storm.  
  • On October 10, 2018, following Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio, Nelson and Florida Representatives urged President Donald Trump to approve Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration. Today, the President approved the State of Florida’s major disaster declaration.
  • On October 9, 2018, Rubio joined Senator Nelson and Florida Representatives in urging President Trump to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Michael.