WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a major plan on Tuesday to help Hurricane Dorian victims in the Bahamas.
Speaking at Florida Power and Light's Command Center in Palm Beach County, the governor said Florida and FPL are sending 19 semi-trucks filled with pallets of water to Nassau to be distributed to storm victims throughout the islands.
"This is water that we had stockpiled for a storm," said DeSantis. "We felt comfortable that we could give some of the water, given the acute needs in the Bahamas, and then still be in a position to backfill if we're unfortunately hit with a storm."
Officials with the Florida Division of Emergency Management said that donation equates to more than 590,000 bottles of water.
"Clean drinking water is the first step," said Jared Moskowitz, the Director of the Division of Emergency Management. "This is the largest charitable the Division of Emergency Management has ever been involved in."
In addition, the governor said that to date, Florida businesses have pledged or given $11 million worth of donations, supplies, and services to the Bahamas, including Publix, Delta Air Lines, and Tropical Shipping.
"That really shows you how Floridians respond to things," said DeSantis. "Part of it is, we do have a good relationship with the Bahamas, but part of it is that's just how people are and they want to help."
A convoy of semi-trucks, stocked full with the water, pulled into the Port of Palm Beach. The pallets are being stored at the port until they are shipped to the Bahamas.
On Saturday, more than 1,100 Bahamian evacuees arrived in South Florida from Freeport after a humanitarian cruise. Since then, the Port of Palm Beach wrote the Governor a letter asking for $9 million in emergency funding to help the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line serve as an emergency vessel for relief efforts.
“We’re just trying to help support our tenant, help Bahamians and support all these great efforts in the county and all this momentum of people want to help that country,” said Katherine Waldron, chair of the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.
The governor hasn't responded to the call for emergency funding at the port. Waldron is hoping to get funding to support a 30-day operation to transport medical, search and rescue and construction volunteers.
“We made the ask and now we’re working to help encourage him. If not state funding, maybe work with the federal government to help get some of that funding,” Waldron said.