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Florida Governor Updates Hurricane Relief Efforts; White House Press Briefing. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 11, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: So, in Texas, again, going back to praising the governor, he's done what we haven't seen done so well in past.
And that is, he's owning the housing problem with a task force that he's initiated. He's also assigned a person to be in charge of long- term recovery. And there's four or five solutions to the housing problems in Texas.
Of course, some of them are short-lived. And what you will have to do is find short-term solutions. People can stay in their home. It's been flooded. When the drywall's ripped out, when the repairs begin, they are going to have to find another place to live temporarily.
So, we try to find hotel solutions. In some cases, FEMA has initiated a manufactured housing solution, where they will put a mobile home or travel trailer on your property you can live in a period of time while your home is being repaired. Those are the ideal solutions when there's enough acreage on your lot for that housing unit to sit.
You can then move back into your home and we can remove that temporary unit. That's essentially the option that we have now. The third option, of course, is just distance. So there's available rental stock, but you have to draw a larger circumference as people move away from their homes and into rental stock available farther away.
And so we have some analysis done on the available rental stock and the available manufactured housing stock available. We can get that to you after the podium brief here.
In Florida, we will have a slightly different issue. But we haven't assessed yet entirely what the damage is.
BOSSERT: Florida will be the same model. But, remember, it's a peninsula and it's a wider-scale problem and it's been a larger swathe storm.
And so what we will do there is assess whether those are the right models or whether we have to apply some different creative solutions. If we do, we have the authorities and we have the budget to do so. We will make sure people are taken care of. APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: (OFF-MIKE) concern about the
mobile homes and then they wound up having issues with formaldehyde.
Is that all cleared up, all that of that concern for -- there was a big concern about mobile home communities just being in place after Katrina. Is that kind of out of the mind-set now or is it still part of the mind-set?
BOSSERT: No, the mind-set of making sure that people have a safe place to live is still very much alive.
What we do as a government is purchase available manufactured housing. We don't make it and we purchase it off the open market. I think the open market has improved their building practices and I think that we have improved through that experience in knowing who to buy from and who not to buy from.
I also understand that problems of ambient air quality continue to persist in our everyday lives. I don't now how much formaldehyde is in this room right now, but do I know that formaldehyde is a carcinogen at any level.
So, the point here is that we take it very seriously and we will make sure we will message very seriously the importance of, of you know, basically ventilation. But to my knowledge, we buy off of a better market now and we provide that solution in a more tailored and responsible manner. If I can...
QUESTION: Tom, a couple questions about the conditions in Florida.
First of all, more than half of Floridians are now without power. That's usually a very local issue, but this is a catastrophe of a much grander scale. When is it your assessment that people in Florida can expect to get the power back? And what is the federal government's role in making that happen?
BOSSERT: My numbers now are somewhere north of five million. If the number's higher, I don't know if that constitutes half the people in Florida. But I will take your word for it.
QUESTION: Households and businesses, so it's a lot more.
BOSSERT: It's a significant -- it's a significant number.
To the extent that a customer might have four people in the household, you will see that number increase. The number of people then would be four in the home. The number of customers would be one. That's the difference.
The idea here is, as I said earlier, we all have a joint role in this. Florida Power and Light, Duke Electric, others will be all be bringing forces to bear. The U.S. government brings to bear a number of forces that are imperative to the restoration effort like pushing debris out of the way and clearing roadways.
Yesterday, what we saw was not just the reports of, but the actual evidence of this will be the largest ever mobilization of line restoration workers in this country period, end of story. They were already mobilized yesterday. They were at the Daytona Speedway.
We will have line restoration workers from every company in this country from states all over country, but also from Canada coming to Florida to help restore the lines. And so in Florida, unlike in Houston, where there are buried power lines, in Florida, they're all strung on poles.
So, we have to restore the poles, restring the lines. And the way that process works is, they restore the plant, then the sub-plant and then line by line, each road and then house by house. You can't hook up each house until the homeowner makes sure that it's safe. You don't want to burn down the house with flood damage and corroded lines and so forth.
So, it is a literally joint effort from federal clearing, to public and private partnerships, to line restoration efforts that are partnered in the for-prompt and regulated world all the way through to the individual homeowner. That's how that process works.
QUESTION: What's your assessment of how long that is going to that take?
BOSSERT: I would caution people to be very patient here between reentry and that process. We could have power down in homes for the coming weeks. Weeks.
Now, I don't want to cause any panic in Florida, and I will come to a question here, next. There are hospitals and nursing homes and other facilities that have generator power to provide services that are necessary.
And there, the concern is providing fuel to those generators should they run out. And from that perspective, the federal government provides a great deal of fuel, a great deal of transport assistance through Transcom and other contracts and we give that fuel state and locals, and they distribute to those -- I said wholesale and retail distribution.
That's the best analogy. They distribute it to those facilities. And so that's our role there as well. And we expect that to happy seamlessly.
QUESTION: Is preventing price gouging in the state of Florida a federal responsibility or is that up to the state officials in Florida and local officials?
BOSSERT: Can be both. And I think you will hear from the attorney general later. So, I will let him explain to you what he welcome do to prevent fraud.
I think he's going to announce an effort on that this week. And I think you have already heard Pam Bondi announce that she is conducting active gouging and anti-fraud practices when there are state and local laws are at play.
So, both is the answer. But I can tell you that neither officials, the attorney general of the United States or the attorney general or attorneys general of the states, are going to tolerate gouging. I think that is something that people ought to think twice about.
QUESTION: There's a possibility of a third and fourth supplemental for disaster relief. Can you tell us how much money the administration wants included in those supplementals? And are you going to put language about raising the cap for flood insurance in that legislation as well?
BOSSERT: So, on the first point, no.
The reason we pursued this approach is, we're trying to make sure that we have responsible estimates, as opposed to making wild guesses now.
We're going for the amount of money we need to get through this response operation phase. And as we transition into recovery, we will analyze the damage and figure how much money we might need and go up for another responsible request.
If we got that wrong, then we would go for another if necessary. It's not necessarily wrong, but if we estimate a world and find actuals don't meet those estimates, then we will go up and rectify.
With respect to flood insurance, we will see how many claims come in. But the flood insurance program had $8.6 billion roundabout available to it. If claims exceed that amount, we will go up and ask for the cap to be raised.
QUESTION: I was hoping you could drill down a bit more on the efforts to evacuate Americans in the Caribbean.
You described the military mobilization. I know that the State Department (OFF-MIKE) task force and they're working around the clock in operations. Can you assess those efforts and can you give a message to Americans who are right now in dire straits in the Caribbean who might be listening to this?
What's the expectation be for an evacuation? How soon can the Americans get the Americans out?
BOSSERT: Well, I'm preaching caution to make sure people understand that this is an ongoing effort and that there is still going to be long, painful days ahead. I am doubling down on my assertion that this is the best integrative,
full-scale response effort in our nation's history. That includes the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and non-U.S. islands where we helped American citizens during a window of operational safety between Jose and Irma.
This has been a large event. You're going to see a lot of positive stories from it.
Now, control expectations. You're on an island where we have to transport commodities, food and water, where have a long road ahead of us to bring electric power back online. But we've assembled two of the most powerful naval relief flotillas in recent memory, a total of nine large ships.
I'm going to just cut right to the Kearsarge, Oak Hill, Wasp, McLean and the U.S. -- the Abraham Lincoln, the Iwo Jima, the Farragut and New York.
That is an aircraft carrier and large platforms for helicopters, 80 or more helicopters flying sorties right now. That is an operation that, for most Americans, if you can't picture it, has never been mobilized for this type of emergency response effort in our history.
And so to the extent that I can assess it, I'm pretty proud of that. To the extent that it meets the need, I'm going to hope it does, because we're saving hundreds, if not thousands of people off of these islands at this point collectively.
And so if the burn rate is not fast enough, I would be surprised, because we're mobilizing ourselves in ways that we have never mobilized before. And Governor Matt (ph), the president of the United States, and the governor of Puerto Rico, Rossello, were all very pleased in their phone calls today.
So, I'm in no better from this podium than they are from their locations to assess it as a positive action.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) With so many people who are evacuated from the Keys, and given the level of destruction there, any time estimate on when people might be able to return to the Keys?
BOSSERT: The Keys are going to take a while.
We have not assessed the structural integrity of the bridges there. There's some early reason to believe that some of the drawbridges that were up may or may not have been bent. So, restoring those is going to take some time.
That Route 1 is a large, expansive bridge essentially. All of the undergirding there has to be examined for structural integrity. I would expect that the Keys are not fit for reentry for regular citizenry for weeks.
And if that's wrong, and I'm wrong, then fine. Then let the local officials bring you in. But I would set that expectation pretty broad right now, and I would say that for the people that chose to stay, they had every warning to leave, and we hope that they took that warning.
And those that didn't, we are going to get back down there as soon as we humanly can. And right now, we don't know. We had three or four overflights today.
I talked to the FEMA administrator just before coming out here. And he is not certain yet that we have had a good overflight assessment of where all of those people might be.
Neither of us would be surprised if lives were lost, but neither of us would be surprised that the responders are going to get down there progressively. So, we're doing everything to help them.
So, I see Sarah.
I'm going to actually end on that, if I could, and end where I started.
Today's the day of solemnity and remembrance for 9/11. It is why I got into this business and it's why I believe our government is now organized for the level of response that we have seen.
And it just goes to kind of show what we have got if we want to bring ourselves together in helping our fellow humans under good leadership from President Trump.
I think we have put forward a good effort. Please, for the people in Florida, continue to follow the instructions of your first-responders and your local authorities. This isn't over yet and it's going to be a painful, slightly frustrating, if not very frustrating week or two ahead.
Thank you all very much.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you, Tom.
As he wrapped up, he reiterated the need to listen to local authorities. I know that the governor of Florida is getting ready to hold a press conference.
I'm going to try to take as many questions as we can, but I also want to make sure that everyone's able to tune in for that, and cover that extensively.
Finally, before I take your questions, several of you have asked about the U.S. response to the ongoing violence in Burma. And I would like to read part of a statement that will be coming out shortly on that topic.
"The United States is deeply troubled by the ongoing crisis in Burma, where at least 300,000 people have fled their homes in the wake of attacks on Burmese security posts on August 25. We reiterate our condemnation of those attacks and ensuing violence."
And with that, I will take your questions.
QUESTION: Sarah, a few questions.
One, do you have a reaction to Steve Bannon's comments on "60 Minutes" saying that the firing of James Comey was the biggest political mistake in modern history? And, secondly, if you could look forward to tomorrow a little and the president's meeting with the Malaysian prime minister.
What do you expect to achieve during that meeting? And will the president address or avoid the issue of the U.S. investigation into him?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Pretty-wide ranging topics. So, I will try to make sure I cover -- first on the Comey firing, I think that we have been clear what our position is.
And certainly I think that that has been shown in the days that followed that the president was right in firing Director Comey. Since the director's firing, we have learned new information about his conduct that only provided further justification for that firing, including giving false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists.
He went outside of the chain of command and politicized an investigation into a presidential candidate. I think the president's been very clear about his position on that front. He's very pleased with the new director and has full confidence in his him to fully restore and lead the FBI.
In terms of Malaysia and on that question, hard transition, but I will try to make sure we cover that. The United States and Malaysia have had a 60-year relationship and partnership built on common economic and security interests, and that continues.
And the president looks forward to discussing a wide variety and wide range of regional and security issues with the prime minister, and talking about ways they can strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, certainly the halt of ISIS, addressing North Korea and their continued actions, and making sure that we promote maritime security in the South China Sea.
Those are certainly I think some of the priorities of tomorrow's meeting, but I'm not going to get ahead much further than that on any conversation that may take place.
Look, we're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation being led by the Department of Justice. And that investigation is apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.
I also have a question on Mr. Bannon's interview.
During that, he said, "I think Mitch McConnell and to a degree Paul Ryan, they do not want Donald Trump's populist economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It's very obvious. It's as obvious as night follows day."
First of all, does the president agree with that obvious characterization of McConnell and Ryan?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president's committed to working with Congress to get some big things done. We have got a very big agenda. The president wants to work with all members of Congress. Obviously, that includes Republican leadership, as well as Democrats.
I think you saw some of the president's leadership last week when he helped strike a deal to make sure that we got the funding that was necessary. We're focused on moving things forward and certainly that's the goal and the priority of the administration.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) like to see -- given his past criticisms of Mr. McConnell and Ryan, would he like to see different leadership in the Republican Congress?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, right now, the president is committed to working with the leadership we have, and nothing beyond that at this point.
QUESTION: Sarah, just a follow-up on Bannon's comments. He actually went -- he said all that about McConnell and Ryan, but also said that they were -- they wanted to nullify the 2016 election results.
So, just a simple yes-or-no question. Does the president agree with that assessment?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not that I'm aware, but I haven't had that conversation with him, Jon.
QUESTION: Is he still talking with Steve Bannon? Does he still seek his counsel on the outside?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I know they've had one conversation, but I don't think anything beyond that since he left.
QUESTION: On Steve Bannon.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: It's a popular topic.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think we may be answering more questions on Steve Bannon now that he's not here than when we was, but go ahead.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Did the president happen to watch the interview? Any reaction? Did you happen to watch the interview on "60 Minutes"? Any reaction?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not sure if he saw it in its entirety. I know he's seen clips of it, but I don't know that he watched the entire thing. I did watch parts of it.
QUESTION: And what was your reaction to it? As a former colleague of yours who worked here at the White House, were you disappointed with any of his comments? Were you surprised by any of his comments?
Did you like the fact that a former staffer is speaking so openly about some of the inner workings of what happens here at the White House on a regular basis?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm sure it made for great TV and I'm sure CBS will be happy to put those ratings out. As for me, I'm here to speak on behalf of the administration.
QUESTION: Why ruin a good thing, Sarah?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Is that what this is? A good thing?
QUESTION: Staying on the topic on Steve Bannon, another comment he made was that dreamers should consider self-deporting when their work permits run out.
Is that something that the White House thinks is realistic, that the dreamers would voluntarily leave the country when those work permits run out? And is that something the president thinks that they should do?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: The administration has been clear what our position is. We're hoping that Congress will step up and do their job, and fix this problem and implement responsible immigration reform and addressing that problem would be part of it.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Last week, Nancy Pelosi told reporters the president would sign the DREAM Act. Is that accurate? Would the president sign the DREAM Act?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Again, the president and the administration are looking at responsible immigration reform.
And part of that would be part of that process, but we want to do something that addresses a multitude of issues and, again, Congress has six months to do their job. We're very hopeful and confident that they will.
QUESTION: In the "60 Minutes" interview, Steve Bannon said that this discussion over DACA could lead to a civil war in the Republican Party. How and why is he wrong about that?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think that Steve always likes to speak in kind of the most extreme measures. I'm not sure that I agree with that.
QUESTION: On a different (OFF-MIKE)
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Oh, wow.
QUESTION: In recent weeks...
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Maybe you get two questions then.
QUESTION: In just a matter of weeks, two storms that have been categorized as once in 500 years or even longer, major events have hit the United States.
In light of that, has the president given any thought to reviewing his decision to leave the Paris climate accords?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not sure specifically on the Paris climate deal.
But, as he said at the time, the goal is to always do our very best when it comes to taking care of the environment and taking proper steps. The United States is one of the best in the world at doing this. We want to continue to do that.
But right now the administration is focused on the recovery and relief efforts. And as Tom said a few minutes ago, we will look at that analysis once we get through the coming days and focus on the recovery and relief and saving lives effort taking place.
QUESTION: Two questions. To follow up on Jon's question a little here, and since you said you do speak for the administration, can you clarify whether the president believes humanity activity contributes to climate change?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president's addressed this already.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) that's changed given these storms?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think that it's changed over the last several weeks. And, again, he's addressed his opinion on that several times since.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) something that happened back on August 10.
As you know, the president declaring that he wanted to have a national emergency when it came to the opioid crisis. It's now been more than a month since he said that,a delay for a president who likes to do things quickly, as he's often said. Is the president taking this seriously enough and when does he intend to declare this emergency and actually get the ball rolling on that?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Absolutely taking it very seriously.
The commission and members of the administration have continued to meet and work on the details of that national declaration. And that's certainly a big priority for the administration and we will continue to focus on pushing that through.
QUESTION: What's taking so long? This is a president who...
HUCKABEE SANDERS: But it's a much more involved process. And that's something that they're working through on the legal side, the administrative side, and making sure that it's done correctly.
QUESTION: Ask about Steve Mnuchin.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Tricky, tricky.
QUESTION: He and Cohn are going up to the Senate tomorrow to talk to the Budget Committee.
What do they want that budget resolution to look like and does the administration support the House budget?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I don't want to get ahead of their conversations.
And I will let Secretary Mnuchin -- I think plans to address that in further detail tomorrow.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Steve Mnuchin real quickly. He took some criticism last week from Republicans for his handling of the debt deal.
What does the president think of Secretary Mnuchin's performance so far?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president has confidence in Secretary Mnuchin and is glad that he's part of the effort working with Gary Cohn to get tax reform done this year.
QUESTION: Just to drill down a little bit on what you said a moment ago regarding James Comey, you said that he was responsible for giving false testimony.
Do you believe that Comey either perjured himself before Congress or at the very least misled Congress in his testimony?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think that's something probably for DOJ to look at, not me. I'm not an attorney.
QUESTION: Two questions, one on (OFF-MIKE) and one on tax reform.
If a big tax reform bill doesn't pass by December, would the president support adding middle-class tax cuts to the end-of-the-year tax extender bill that the Congress has to pass?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: We're focused on making sure we get a complete tax reform package. That's the goal.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Right now, that's the focus. And if that doesn't happen, we will look at other options at that point.
QUESTION: On Americans' personal data security, after the Equifax leak, is more regulation warranted for the handling of Americans' personal data?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think this is something we have to look into extensively.
Tom Bossert will be one of the primary people taking the lead on that front and certainly something we have to explore all the best ways to make sure that Americans are protected in that sense.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Was the president disappointed by Steve Bannon's comments on "60 Minutes"?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not sure if he was disappointed on his comments.
QUESTION: And, secondly, did Steve Bannon warn the president that firing James Comey would be the biggest political mistake in modern history?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not aware that conversation ever took place.
As I mentioned when we started, the governor of Florida has a press conference that will be started here in a few minutes.
Want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to tune in. The press team will be here. And we're happy to answer any questions, particularly if you have anything beyond Steve Bannon. We will be even more than happy to answer. Thanks, guys.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Sarah Sanders wrapping up a White House press briefing. A lot of questions about Steve Bannon's interview with "60 Minutes" that aired.
And it turned out to be a Category 3 interview, if you forgive the metaphor right there, a lot of cleanup to be done from that interview which we will discuss at a future time.
But right now, we're dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma as well. And before we heard from the White House press secretary, we heard from the homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, who did give us some new information.
He noted there is a concern about a couple of broad bridges -- I say a couple -- a few broad bridges in the Florida Keys that might have been damaged. That might impact the recovery effort down there.
He noted that to get all of the electricity back up in Florida, there are some 6,000 customers -- 6,000 -- six million customers in Florida right now without power -- it could take weeks, which is something we have heard from Florida officials as well.
And a very interesting note from Tom Bossert. He said the two areas of the most acute concern right now for the administration are the Florida Keys and then Jacksonville, Florida, also, where we have seen some terrible flooding just over the last few hours.
I don't think you could pick two points in Florida further apart than Jacksonville and the Florida Keys, which just shows you the scope of the devastation from Hurricane Irma.
Let's go to Jacksonville right now, if we can.
Kaylee Hartung is in Jacksonville, been covering this flooding.
And, a , the images that we have seen from this, Kaylee, have been astounding. What's it look like now?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the waters of the St. Johns river is still rolling into downtown Jacksonville. We are two blocks inland from the St. Johns River are still rolling into downtown Jacksonville.
We're two blocks inland from the Saint Johns River right there. But the good news, I'm not standing in water right now. I am standing on high ground. The best way to explain how high the water has come up to look at this pile of debris that washed into this parking lot, but the water still very much a threat here.
High tide was at 2:00. We recognized that would be the height of the concern here. That time has come and gone, and it is a good sight to see these waters beginning to recede. But we all know how quickly these scenarios can change. The advice local officials are giving is go up, not out right now, but plenty of people not heeding these warnings all around me.
This is about as busy as we have seen it outside. Children, families getting a look still as these waters rolling into downtown, but officials say unless it is essential, you should continue to shelter in place and do not leave your homes and do not get on the roads. There is just no need while these floodwaters are so unpredictable at this time. What we are encountering here in downtown Jacksonville, right outside
of the Omni Hotel, a lot of people who came here from elsewhere, from Boca Raton, a family right over here, from Hollywood, Florida, from Ponte Vedra, from Jacksonville Beach.
They came here to downtown Jacksonville thinking this would be a safe place to shelter, and yet here are the waters of the Saint Johns River rolling up right into the middle of downtown, an unprecedented event, historic flooding. The records continue today and the winds continue to gust.
BERMAN: All right.
Kaylee, I'm going to cut you off, Kaylee, as there is concern about Jacksonville. I am sure we are going to here about that from Governor Rick Scott of Florida briefing right now.
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GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Sixteen years go, our country came under attack and thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives.
We will never forget them. And today we reflect on the memory of the loved and lost. We're also remind of the bravery and selfless dedication of our law enforcement and first-responders, some of which tragically lost their lives that day as they ran into danger to save others.
I am also -- I am always amazed at the resolve of law enforcement and we're seeing their commitment to families of our state today as they conduct search-and-rescue missions to keep people safe.
Today, I want to thank the U.S. Coast Guard. And I want to thank Admiral Schultz for taking me on today's tour to assess damage. And I will talk about that a little bit later.
We have a wonderful Coast Guard. We have a wonderful military. And I can tell you, I can't say enough how they have shown up and they're continuing to show up to do the right thing.
Our military not only defends the freedom of this country, but they show up when there's a crisis.
I just received a weather briefing on Tropical Storm Irma's continued path through our state. It's been downgraded to a tropical storm and has sustained winds of 65 miles per hour.
Here's what we're seeing across our state. Storm surge across South and Southwest Florida range from four to eight feet. Monroe County experienced an estimated of 10 feet surge at landfall. Miami-Dade experienced approximately four feet of storm surge.
What is interesting about the storm surge is, it's totally different than Andrew. A lot of us remember Andrew, and we didn't see the storm surge in Andrew. It was more of a wind event.
In Tampa, we're seeing two to four feet of storm surge right now and this will last throughout today.
We're seeing surge of three to six feet along the Big Bend. And if you remember, the Big Bend and further into the Panhandle last year and Irma got significant storm surge and we saw a lot of damage.
In Central Florida, the Orlando area, we're seeing flooding due to a torrential rain of more than a foot. In Jacksonville, in Northeast Florida, storm surge is three to five feet on top of more than a foot of rainfall, which is causing record and historical flooding along the Saint Johns River.
(INAUDIBLE) also explained to me this morning in a weather briefing that Hurricane Jose is also pushing water into the northern part of our state, which is preventing the water from flowing out as fast.
I spoke to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry this morning and assured him that resources are being deployed. Fish and Wildlife Commission immediately deployed three search-and-rescue teams with 22 officers and 10 boats that were pre-staged into Jacksonville.
We are going to do every we did. The way I look at is, as governor -- and all of us think this way -- we want to keep everybody safe through the storm and want to keep everybody safe back after the storm and we get everybody back to a normal life as quickly as possible.
We've also deployed a 25-person team from the state emergency operations center to the emergency operations center in Putnam, Duval, and Clay counties in response to this historic flooding.
We will continue to send resources to Jacksonville and any other community in need. Rainfall exceeding a foot in many communities in Northeast, Central and Southeast Florida -- Southwest Florida.
Fortunately, the heaviest rain has cleared the state. However, this rain caused flash flooding in Northeast Florida. Rivers across the state continue to rise and standing water remains an issue over the entire peninsula.
The biggest threat for this week as Irma leaves Florida will be river flooding. And most of that is going to be in the northern part of the state.
Stay tuned to local advisories for river flood watches and warnings. Families in Southeast and Northwest Florida, as well the Tampa Bay area, need to be especially vigilant, as local rivers could remain at flood levels into the weekend.
And we generally see that in the I-4 Corridor and north. The heaviest winds have now left Florida, but the entire peninsula experienced at least tropical-force winds, with hurricane gusts being felt as far east and north as Jacksonville.
Thankfully, the threat of tornadoes has diminished. We have received seven reports of tornadoes, including two in Brevard County. The National Weather Service is working to confirm these reports.
Given this weather report, if your family and you and your family have evacuated, it's extremely important that you check with local officials before returning home to make sure you can safely do so.
Don't go back -- don't think just because this has passed, you can run home. We have got downed power lines all across the state. We have got roads that are impassable still across the state.
We have got debris all over the state. Our goal, again, is, don't put any more lives at risk. We already went through this horrendous storm. Don't put your life at risk because of downed power lines, debris, impassable roads.
This morning, I had the opportunity to travel with the Coast Guard and the Admiral Schultz to survey damage throughout the west coast of Florida and through the Keys.
I want to thank the Coast Guard for this opportunity.
And here's what we saw.