Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order Monday and provided $1.5 million to help clean up water and bring back tourists to Southwest Florida after the latest outbreak of red tide. The order declared an emergency in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
The money includes $900,000 to clean up water in Lee County, $500,000 for the tourism-marketer Visit Florida and $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory. The money for Mote is expected to help the lab deploy scientists to assist in saving animals, such as manatees, dolphins and sea turtles, affected by red tide. Visit Florida is expected to use the money to develop a marketing campaign to help Southwest Florida communities after the red tide blooms end. The cleanup money for Lee County follows $400,000 in emergency funding directed last Tuesday toward cleaning county waters affected by red tide.
“While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover,” Scott said in a prepared statement Monday.
The condition of South Florida waters has become a key issue in a number of political races, including Scott’s bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. On Aug. 3, Scott directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to “mobilize all available resources” to address red tide impacts in Southwest Florida’s coastal communities.