Marion County — At the Marion County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 15, the commission unanimously approved a resolution declaring a state of local emergency in Marion County, following an EF-1 tornado that passed through parts of the county on Saturday, March 12.
The tornado, rated as an EF-1 by the National Weather Service with wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour, tore through parts of Marion County, causing damage to businesses and homes along State Road 200 near the I-75 onramps.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, March 14, the estimated property loss in Marion County was more than $15.6 million, which includes real estate loss, debris removal, and personal property loss. This number is still expected to increase as damage assessment continues throughout the affected areas.
On March 13, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 22-56, declaring a state of emergency in four counties: Clay, Highlands, Putnam, and Marion. The state of emergency mobilizes personnel and funds to assist the affected counties as needed.
Marion County’s state of emergency proclamation allows for:
- Mounir Bouyunes, the County Administrator, may waive competitive bidding requirements for emergency needs such as debris removal and cleanup activities necessitated by the storm.
- The County Administrator also may begin working with Preston Bowlin, the Marion County Director of Emergency Management, to prepare requests for reimbursement from the state from the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund or other state funds that may be available for emergency requests.
Following the successful passage of the proclamation, the state of emergency immediately goes into effect. Florida Statute subsection 252.38(3) states that “[t]he duration of each state of emergency declared locally is limited to 7 days.”
The county commission also unanimously voted to provide contracted debris pick-up for the unincorporated parts of Marion County that were in the pathway of the tornado. Debris must be located in the right-of-way. The date of pick-up will be determined and noticed accordingly to the areas that are affected.
Fortunately, there were no injuries or loss of life reported due to the tornado, and several local businesses and charity organizations have volunteered their time, services, and money to assist Marion County residents who experienced property damage or loss of their homes.