Florida Irma Update

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach, the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay.

Based on recent forecasts, the US Army Corps has been reviewing how the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike will be impacted. Governor Scott spoke to Col. Jason Kirk with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today and the Corps. believes there will be additional impacts from excessive wind pushing some water over the Dike. While they have assured the Governor that the structural integrity of the Dike will not be compromised, Governor Scott has ordered voluntary evacuations beginning immediately in the cities surrounding the southern half of Lake Okeechobee from Lake Port to Canal Point in Hendry, Palm Beach and Glades counties. Mandatory evacuations will be put in place for these communities beginning tomorrow morning. Information regarding transportation and sheltering will be released tomorrow morning. This decision was made due to Governor Scott’s sole focus on life safety as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. The seven cities affected by these orders are as follows:
o  South Bay
o  Lake Harbor
o  Pahokee
o  Moore Haven
o  Clewiston
o  Belle Glade
o  Canal Point
Brevard – mandatory evacuations for Zone A, Merritt Island, barrier islands, and some low-lying mainland areas along Indian River Lagoon beginning Friday
Broward – voluntary evacuations mobile homes and low-lying areas; mandatory East of Federal Highway including barrier islands beginning Thursday
Collier – mandatory evacuations for Goodland, Everglades City, Chokoloskee, all mobile homes beginning on Friday
Flagler – mandatory evacuations for nursing homes, all varieties of assisted living facilities, and community residential group homes within coastal and Intracoastal areas and voluntary for zones A, B, C, F beginning on Thursday; mandatory for Zones A,B,C,F, and substandard housing beginning on Saturday
Hendry – voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas, non-slab-built homes, mobile home and RVs beginning on Thursday
Lee – mandatory evacuations for barrier islands – Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Island beginning on Friday AM
Manatee – voluntary evacuations for Zone A
Martin – voluntary evacuations for mandatory for barrier islands, manufactured homes, and low-lying areas beginning Saturday
Miami-Dade – mandatory evacuations for all of Zone A, all of Zone B, and portions of Zone C. Miami Dade residents can find their zones by clicking HERE.
Monroe – mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents. A dedicated transportation hotline is available specifically for individuals in the Keys at 305-517-2480
Palm Beach – mandatory evacuations for Zone A and B, voluntary for Zone C
Pinellas – mandatory evacuations all mobile home and Zone A
St. Lucie – voluntary evacuations
School buses are available for transportation needs in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties. At this time, Monroe has accepted 10 buses to help with evacuations, Miami-Dade Counties are using these services to help evacuate those with special needs and Broward has buses on stand-by.
Additional evacuations are expected throughout the state. All Floridians should pay close attention to local alerts and follow the directions of local officials.
Shelters are continuing to open, including shelters for people with special needs, pets and general populations. DOH is coordinating the set up and staffing for special needs shelters. A list of all open shelters will be available at floridadisaster.org/shelters.
The state is working with the American Red Cross to identify shelter capacity both during and following the storm.

Governor Scott has activated a total of 4,000 members of the Florida Army and Air National Guard to support with planning, and logistics operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These members are stationing across the state and actively assisting with preparation efforts.
At the direction of Governor Scott, all remaining National Guard members will be reporting for duty tomorrow morning. Additional guard members will continue to be activated this week as needed.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the North Carolina National Guard to utilize air assets to assist with ongoing evacuations in the Florida Keys.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the New Jersey National Guard and approximately 130 soldiers and more than 50 vehicles are in route to provide transportation assets for movement of troops, supplies and equipment to aid mobilization efforts during Hurricane Irma operations.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the Ohio National Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard to have teams standing by for Hurricane Irma support.
The Florida National Guard has 1,000 high water vehicles, 13 helicopters, 17 boats and more than 700 generators on standby.
The Florida National Guard is coordinating with the National Guard Bureau to identify approximately 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters, and air evacuation crews that are standing by for Hurricane Irma support, if needed.
The Florida National Guard Joint Operations Center at Camp Blanding has activated to Level 1 to facilitate Hurricane Irma mission command and coordination efforts.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty teams with supporting resources such as trucks, coastal and river patrol boats, an ATV and two shallow draft boats are preparing for evacuation support, search and rescue missions, or any additional needs.
FWC is also coordinating with partners in states such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas in case additional officers or resources are needed.
FDLE is assisting with fuel escorts in impacted areas. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and those teams will begin deploying tomorrow to pre-staging locations. Each FDLE region is operating its Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Team in advance of the storm to assist local law enforcement with any needs.
The entire Florida Highway Patrol, approximately 1,700 troopers, is on 12-hour shifts, with the primary mission to assist emergency preparedness and response, including escorting fuel trucks.
A total of 330 FHP troopers are currently on standby for deployments. A 33-member team is currently in route to the Fort Myers area for quick response efforts once storm track and potential impacts are determined. Additionally, equipment such as high water recovery vehicles have been prepared for quick deployment to assist with recovery and road clearance efforts.
The Division of Motorist Services has its Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) mobiles on standby and will deploy them to impacted areas as needed.

Governor Scott directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to suspend tolls across the entire State of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Tolls will be suspended for the duration of the storm’s impacts to Florida.
Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes is available at http://www.FL511.com
FDOT has increased the number of road rangers who are patrolling Florida’s roadways 24/7 to assist motorists.
Around the state, FDOT has 13 Traffic Management Centers where hundreds of DOT workers are monitoring traffic cameras 24/7 to ensure traffic flows continue and evacuations proceed without interruption.
FDOT officials are also monitoring road cameras at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee around the clock to help keep traffic moving.
FDOT is coordinating with Google’s emergency response team to prepare to ‘close’ roads in Google Maps in real time in the event that Hurricane Irma forces the closure of any roads in the aftermath of the storm. Google Maps are used for Uber and Waze among other directional applications.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has suspended construction contractor work and prepared key evacuation routes for possible shoulder use.
·         FDOT is coordinating with county emergency operations centers directly to coordinate any necessary response actions, including activating traffic counters, providing local evacuation support and providing maintenance of traffic and other assistance.

·         The state is monitoring conditions at all airports and seaports. Key West International Airport will be suspending operations this evening. All seaports are open and making preparations.

Volunteer Florida is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. To volunteer, go to volunteerflorida.org or call 1-800-FL-Help-1.
Governor Scott has set a goal of 17,000 volunteers. So far, more than 1,500 state employees and more than 8,300 members of the public have signed up with Red Cross to take the volunteer sheltering training.
Volunteer Florida is working with the Red Cross to identify staffing for host shelters in Sarasota, Alachua and Leon Counties.
Volunteer Florida has 43 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) on standby to deploy to areas of need. Many of these teams have begun to work in local call centers and prepare for sheltering assistance.
American Red Cross teams are coordinating feeding at shelters and have staged 26 tractor trailers at the State Logistics Response Center, 150 trailers at the State Farmers Market, and 100 emergency response vehicles in North Florida.
The Salvation Army has the capability to provide 100,000 meals a day. Salvation Army is on standby with 32 cooking units and two field kitchens stationed in Palm Beach and Miami. They are also coordinating additional supplies awaiting deployment from neighboring states.
The Florida Baptist Convention has eight kitchens ready and the ability to feed 90,000 people immediately. Twenty-seven more kitchens are on standby ready to feed 35,000 meals a day.
Feeding Florida has received nine truckloads of food from Kellogg’s to assist in shelters with 16 additional trucks coming in. Feeding Florida currently has more than 4,000 food boxes on hand capable of sustaining a family of four for five days. Feeding Florida has 3,000 shelf stable meal boxes ready to distribute to staging areas in Miami and Orlando. Volunteers are compiling 20,000 food bags, which hold 20 pounds of food and can be distributed as needed. Feeding Florida also has baby food/formula kits available for distribution.
Church World Service has hygiene kits and cleanup buckets on standby.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida has showers and trailers available in Pensacola and Lakeland for deployment, as well as supplies such as chainsaws, shovels, safety equipment and 1,200 tarps.
Church of Latter Day Saints has chainsaws, tarps, and water on standby.
United Methodist Church has hygiene kits and flood buckets on standby.
Angel Flight SE has 700 pilots based in the southeastern U.S. available to assist.
Church of Scientology is activating volunteers for FL and receiving volunteers and donations in Clearwater.
Church of Latter Day Saints is transporting material (primarily tarps, chainsaws, food and water) to Orlando, more on order from Atlanta Bishop’s Storehouse
Mission North American Disaster Relief is staging equipment in various locations across the state and have two shower trailers available.
UMCOR has 2,500-3000 flood buckets on hand and 3,000 hygiene kits.
United Way is arranging enhanced staffing for 211 to support and direct residents.

While the state is working with retail partners to fill grocery store shelves with water and other emergency resources as quickly as possible, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.
Governor Scott has requested federal resources such as disaster tarps, water, baby food supplies, supply trucks, search and rescue personnel and equipment and incident management teams.
The state has established local points of contact with mass care organizations and volunteer agencies, including working with the American Red Cross to coordinate sheltering and feeding operations. The American Red Cross has also established a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO) in Orlando and is actively opening shelters.
The state is staging mass care supplies such as meals, shelter support trailers and water at the State Logistic Response Center in Orlando for deployments as needed.
The state is sending 120,000 dehydrated meals to The Salvation Army and The Florida Baptist for distribution as needed.
Food Safety Response Teams are beginning to be placed on standby for recovery assessments.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has released September Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to current recipients who have not yet received them to assist with Hurricane Irma preparations




Finding New Leadership: Humboldt Harbor District Executive Director Steps Down

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- A change in leadership comes to the Humboldt Harbor District as Executive Director Jack Crider’s resignation was officially accepted during a public meeting of the commission today.

According to Commission Chair Richard Marks, the board is hoping to appoint a new leader by Mid-December. With that in mind, they assembled a list of names (including two current and some former commissioners) to join a selection/appointment committee that will seek out a successor for Crider. That list was formulated in a closed meeting earlier in the day.

That list, however, was not particularly well received by a number of community members who appeared at Thursday’s meeting. People like Kent Sawatzky took to the podium asking that the selection board be expanded to include a more diverse group of individuals with a vested interest in the harbor.

“We strongly support not having prior commissioners on this force. We’d like to see new blood, diversified.” Sawatsky said, “Everything from Bay Keepers to the local people who participate in the fishing industry. Everybody should have input on this process. It’s very important to Humboldt County and the future of our Bay.”

Sawatsky mentioned that a committee without diversity could be slanted, and make the community feel excluded. Commissioners argued that their original list was drafted with experience and efficiency in mind for its members. Still, they remained receptive to the messages left on the floor by Sawatsky and his peers.

After listening to public comment, the commission voted to wait on officially naming the final members of the selection committee. In the weeks to come they hope to have more eyes hit resumes and be involved in the interview process for a new executive director.

After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death-Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala answers questions during a news conference Friday in Orlando, Fla.
John Raoux/AP

A Florida state attorney gained national attention when she announced last March that her office would no longer seek the death penalty, setting up a months-long legal battle with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

That’s a battle State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Orlando has now lost, following a decision Thursday from the Supreme Court of Florida that the governor does have the authority to reassign first-degree-murder cases to a different prosecutor.

“Florida’s Republican governor has taken more than 25 cases away from Ayala, and lawmakers slashed her budget,” WMFE’s Abe Aboraya tells our Newscast unit.

In a news conference Friday, Ayala stated that she respects the decision and is setting up a death penalty review panel in her office to independently evaluate whether to seek the death penalty. She argues that this removes the rationale for reassigning her cases.

“I don’t think at this point there’s any basis to remove cases because I’m following the law,” Ayala told reporters.

The panel will be made up of six prosecuting attorneys along with the attorney assigned to prosecute the specific case. If they unanimously determine that it is appropriate to seek the death penalty, they will make the recommendation to Ayala.

“It is worth noting that I have invested my authority into the review panel and have no intention of usurping that authority which I granted,” Ayala added.

NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported on Ayala’s motivations when the case began:

“Ayala, who took office in January in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, is the first black elected prosecutor in Florida. She says the death penalty is broken and does not achieve justice for victims’ families. She didn’t campaign on capital punishment, but once in office said she had determined through research that pursuing the death penalty ‘is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice.’ ”

The state Supreme Court opinion states that “Ayala’s blanket refusal to seek the death penalty in any eligible case … does not reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it embodies, at best, a misunderstanding of Florida law.”

It’s not clear whether Scott will continue to reassign cases. Spokesman John Tupps told The Associated Press that Scott will “continue to review” Ayala’s actions, adding that “the governor must be convinced that the death penalty will be sought as outlined in Florida law, when appropriate.”

Two Florida men, 16-year-old girl arrested for murdering MMA fighter Aaron Rajman

Two men and a 16-year-old girl have been charged with murdering a professional mixed martial arts fighter who was shot during a Florida home invasion in July, police said.

Roberto Ortiz and Jace Swinton, both 18, were arrested Friday along with high school junior Summer Church, for the death of Aaron Rajman, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

The three murder suspects, who were indicted by a grand jury on Thursday, face a first-degree murder charge and two counts of armed home invasion robbery with a firearm.

Church, who is 16, will be tried as an adult.

Rajman was shot dead on July 3 after “unknown males” went to his Boca Raton home, the Sun Sentinel reported.

An argument broke out and at least one shot was fired before the suspects drove off, the sheriff’s office said.

They made no mention of a female at the time of Rajman’s death.

Church, who was arrested Friday on her way to school, met the MMA fighter at a convenience store in January, her mother Judith Church told the Palm Beach Post.

Judith Church claimed her daughter, who was dating Swinton at the time, was held at gunpoint by Ortiz and three other men.


An argument broke out at Rajman’s home and at least one shot was fired, the sheriff’s office said


They forced the 16-year-old to call Rajman and let her out the car before they arrived at the MMA fighter’s home, according to Judith Church, who argued that her daughter’s murder charge was undeserved.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg issued a statement Friday.

“This was no random act of violence. Mr. Rajman was targeted by these defendants and we intend to seek justice for the victim and his family,” he wrote.

Rajman was a member of the American Top Team gym, and maintained an 8-1 win-loss record as an amateur fighter before he turned professional in 2014 with a 2-2 record.

The 25-year-old was a devout Orthodox Jew who often shared his religious beliefs and taught kids at a Jewish community school.


Trio of teens charged with killing Boca MMA fighter held without bail

Summer Church, 16, will be held in Palm Beach County jail without bail on first-degree murder charges in the fatal shooting of a mixed martial arts fighter west of Boca Raton, a judge said Saturday September 2, 2017 in West Palm Beach. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Three teens will be held in Palm Beach County jail without bail on first-degree murder charges in the fatal shooting of a mixed martial arts fighter west of Boca Raton, a judge decided Saturday.

It was an emotional blow to the teens’ family, who told reporters after the hearing that they are innocent in the death of MMA fighter Aaron Rajman, 25, killed in his suburban Boca Raton home.

Summer Church, 16, and Roberto Ortiz and Jace Swinton, both 18, are also charged with two counts each of home invasion with a firearm or other deadly weapon.

All three defendants were indicted by a grand jury Thursday. Church will face charges as an adult. She was arrested Friday morning on her way to school at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, where she is an 11th-grader.

Judge Ted Booras noted that a first-degree murder charge is a capital offense, meaning it’s punishable by the death penalty in Florida. That penalty could apply only to Ortiz and Swinton. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional for anyone who committed the crime under age 18.

“She’s innocent,” Judith Church, Summer’s mother, said after the hearing.

Church also objected to her daughter being tried as an adult. “She should have been with the juveniles because she is a juvenile.”

Jace Swinton’s mother, who declined to share her name, also proclaimed her son’s innocence.

“He’s a very humble, sweet kid,” she said. She offered her condolences to the family of Rajman, who was killed while several men invaded his home late July 3, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

A fight broke out and Rajman was shot before the men fled.

Summer Church and Swinton were friends of Rajman, Judith Church told reporters.

Summer Church of Boca Raton was not at the scene when Rajman was shot, but police paint her as the “mastermind” of the operation, Judith Church said.

The 16-year-old cooperated with detectives, who first contacted her the day after shooting, her mother said.

“We helped them in every way we could,” Judith Church said.

The families declined to share further details of the case. Judith Church did, however, say the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s investigation was incomplete.

“It’s a shame for them to let her go to jail knowing for a fact she wasn’t there (when the shooting happened),” Judith Church said.

Summer Church met Rajman in January at a convenience store in Boca Raton, her mother has said. Swinton, who was then dating Summer, also met Rajman and had been to his house.

Swinton attended Boynton Beach High School, according to his Facebook page.

It isn’t clear how the pair knew Ortiz, the only one of the three with a previous arrest record in Palm Beach County, according to court documents.

Ortiz — who attended Quantum High School, an alternative school in Boynton Beach, as recently as spring — was arrested on an armed robbery charge in January.

Ortiz and an unidentified man, who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun, robbed and beat a 17-year-old, the police report states. The charges were dropped after the victim refused to cooperate, according to the state attorney’s office.

Rajman, an Orthodox Jew, made his Mixed Martial Arts debut in April 2014 and had a 2-2 record as a professional. He was born in New York and moved with his family to Florida as a pre-schooler. A family friend said his parents later divorced, and for the past few years, he shared a home west of Boca Raton with his mother, his mother’s aunt and his younger brother.

Rajman family members attended the bond hearing but declined to comment.

Florida emergency managers monitor Irma, urge residents to be prepared

This is a satellite image of Hurricane Irma.

JACkSONVILLE, Fla. – Although Hurricane Irma is about 2,500 miles from Florida’s shores, people along the Florida coast are being encouraged to review their preparedness plans, know their evacuation zones, review their insurance policies and update their disaster kit.

News4Jax surveyed the Emergency Operations Centers, and the directors all said Irma is too far out to begin any physical preparations, but they said they’re ready to make moves when the time is right.

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said his county’s EOC is monitoring any storms that could threaten and is making sure the county is prepared. He said county agencies will hold meetings next week on Irma’s progression and decisions on preparations will go from there.

In Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry said preparations are already underway ahead of Irma and that the county’s EOC is working closely with the state to coordinate and improve evacuation routes.

Curry emphasized he wouldn’t hesitate to order evacuations if Irma is expected to make landfall in the area.

In St. Johns County, where some are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, people are more aware of what’s happening in the tropics. The emergency management coordinator said the department is keeping a close eye on Irma. The county held a hurricane exercise in June and improved communication for a faster response. Flagler County Emergency Management technician told News4Jax that the county is reviewing plans it can quickly put into action and briefing staff. They’ve also fixed a technical problem discovered with the Palm Coast call center during Hurricane Matthew.


Next execution in Florida set for October

TALLAHASSEE Florida is scheduled to execute its next Death Row inmate next month.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a new death warrant on Friday setting the execution of Michael Lambrix for 6 p.m. Oct. 5.

Lambrix was previously set to die in February 2016 but hisexecution was halted amid questions over the constitutionality of Florida’s death penalty law.

He has been on Death Row since 1984 after he was convicted in 1983 of murdering Aleisha Bryant and Clarence Moore Jr., following a night of drinking in Glades County.

Scott’s office described the crime as Lambrix having “lured Moore outside, and viciously attacked him with a tire iron, repeatedly hitting him in the head and fracturing his skull. Lambrix then called Bryant to come outside, where he attacked her, kicking her in the head and strangling her.”

But in an interview with the Herald/Times in 2016, Lambrix contended that Moore strangled Bryant and that he used a tire iron to fatally batter Moore in self-defense. He admitted that he and his girlfriend, Frances Smith, buried both victims in a shallow grave and that he refused to call police because he was a fugitive from that work detail.

RELATED: Who is Michael Lambrix? ]

Lambrix’s previously scheduled execution in 2016 was halted when the state Supreme Court issued a stay. Justices cited the uncertainty of how past cases should be handled in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January 2016 — known as Hurst v. Florida — which deemed Florida’s sentencing procedures unconstitutional.

The Florida Supreme Court in December cemented death sentences for nearly 200 prisoners — including Lambrix — whose sentences were finalized before a June 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling referenced in the Hurst decision.

The Legislature, meanwhile, quickly moved to fix the state’s death penalty law during the first week of the 2017 session this spring. The new procedures

This is the third death warrant signed for Lambrix. The governor who signed Lambrix’s first death warrant, Bob Martinez, left office in 1991.

The last Death Row inmate to be executed was Mark James Asay, who was put to death just eight days ago.

Asay’s death by lethal injection on Aug. 24 was the first time Florida had used a new anesthetic drug, etomidate. There were no reported complications.