Florida Gov. DeSantis declares state of emergency over threat of reservoir collapse

A rumored contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination has been facing a serious crisis in his home state the past few days that is threatening the health, safety, and property of hundreds, and which is putting his leadership and emergency response skills to the test.

As the Daily Wire reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R ) saw fit to declare a state of emergency for Manatee County on Saturday following a toxic water breach from the Piney Point reservoir situated south of Tampa in a situation that officials say poses “imminent hazard” to at least 300 nearby homes.

Saturday also saw the issuance of an evacuation order for families from at least 316 homes deemed in the path of what could develop into a “real catastrophic flood situation,” according to NBC News. The Piney Point reservoir is said to contain a mix of fresh water, salt water, wastewater, as well as fertilizer runoff, and though there were early concerns that the waters could be radioactive due to the reservoir’s location in a stack of phosphogypsum a byproduct of fertilizer manufacturing, DeSantis announced on Sunday that this is not the case.

The trouble arose when a portion of the reservoir’s retaining wall structure shifted, placing the entire system at risk of total collapse, something that could potentially release 600 million gallons of water from the retention pool, in mere minutes, as public safety officials in Manatee County warned.

The Daily Wire noted that work crews are pumping massive amounts of water in an attempt to lower the pressure at the site of the breach, but some models are predicting that a “20-foot wall of water” could come gushing out at the site if current efforts to divert water out of the reservoir are not successful in time.

In response to the escalating situation Gov. DeSantis on Saturday announced his emergency declaration for Manatee County, which he said was designed “to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery.” The governor’s Twitter account also featured a photo of a helicopter survey of the affected area he took with county officials that day and pointed Floridians to resources for updates and local safety alerts.

The damage potential of the reservoir breach is clearly quite serious, as evidenced by the governor’s decisive steps to marshal critical resources, and very real concern was expressed by Justin Bloom of Sarasota-based nonprofit Suncoast Waterkeeper who said, according to NBC News, “We hope the contamination is not as bad as we fear, but are preparing for significant damage to Tampa Bay and the communities that rely on this precious resource.

While residents near the Piney Point reservoir await the outcome of this terrifying scenario, Americans everywhere are praying that the emergency mitigation strategies currently underway can greatly minimize the destruction during what is already such a trying time for so many.