Will Murphy send help to potential presidential rival DeSantis?
New Jersey is lending a hand as Florida begins clean-up from Hurricane Ian.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday morning authorized 135 New Jersey National Guardsmen for deployment to Florida to support relief efforts.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida right now as they begin their journey to recovery from Hurricane Ian,” Murphy said. “We are thankful for the 135 men and women who bravely volunteered to travel down to Florida to assist with hurricane aid and relief efforts. We are continuing to monitor the storm as is heads further north and are prepared to provide more support where needed.”
The full extent of damage may not be clear for days as flood waters remain high. A storm surge as high as 18 feet has been reported where Ian came ashore as a massive Category 4 hurricane.
Violent winds topping 155 miles per hour plunged more than 2 million people into darkness. Restoration is a top priority.
PSE&G already has multiple crews in Florida ready to begin work on power lines once the winds diminish and flood waters recede.
JCP&L crews are on standby to help other Southern states as the storm moves farther North. As Ian moves out of Florida and into the Carolinas, crews may provide assistance if needed.
Both utilities are members of the North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, which consists of 21 electric companies across 13 states, and renders aid during emergency situations. The same group has sent crews to New Jersey on multiple occasions to help with storm-related outages.
Volunteers from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Red Cross have also been deployed to Florida to help provide relief to those displaced from the storm. Ahead of Ian's arrival, more than 2.5 million residents were ordered to evacuate. Many will not have homes to return to.
Despite the evacuation orders, many did elect to stay behind. Flooding has trapped countless residents in their homes with flood waters as high as the attic.
New Jersey has an elite search and rescue team called Task Force 1 that is often deployed to natural disasters. However, Gov. Phil Murphy made no mention of the task force or its deployment during comments to reporters on Wednesday.
Members of the task force are trained in search and rescue as well as operations in high water and flooding.
Early reports from Florida indicate a significant need for water rescue operations
The state sent a team of 74 state troopers, a doctor and members of the state's All-Hazards Incident Management Team to help clean-up efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona tore through the U.S. territory.
A spokesman from the New Jersey State Police told New Jersey 101.5 this morning, "There is currently no request for NJ TF1 to deploy to Florida for Hurricane Ian, but we remain ready should our assistance be requested."
That would indicate that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would have to request aid, before the task force would be mobilized.
DeSantis and Murphy are potential political rivals. Both are rumored to be considering a potential presidential run.
Pennsylvania has already mobilized its Task Force 1. A convoy of busses, trucks and equipment deployed to a staging area in South Carolina on Wednesday.
There are several ways you can provide aid and relief to the victims of Ian. A list of ways you can help can be found here.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include Murphy's announcement about deploying the National Guard.