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National Guard furloughs being put to test with Tropical Storm Chantal looming

7:53 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott since spring has sounded the alarm: 1,000 fewer boots on the ground in times of emergencies like wildfires and hurricanes is Scott's argument for an exemption.

The Florida National Guard said preparation now boils down to priorities.

Guard training goes on like what happened at Camp Blanding recently: Preparation for any natural disaster.

Furloughs are being put to the test with Tropical Storm Chantal on the horizon and Florida likely to be impacted in some way.

Jacksonville resident Larry Feuersteim has fishing on his mind, but he's well aware a storm is in the making. He wonders just what role the National Guard will have.

"Who will we have out there if the National Guard are not available? That's my question. There may be an answer, I don't know," he said.

The answer according to Governor Scott: "It can put us at risk when we do have a hurricane, I hope we don't."

Mondays are a lean day in Florida. That's when 1,000 members of the National Guard are taking off one day a week through September.

Scott wants the White House to make an exemption allowing Florida and other coastal states to be fully staffed for emergencies.

The Florida National Guard said, "The furlough will create a back log of more than 6,000 pieces of equipment and impact our preparation for disaster response."

If something bad happens, the fallback is drawing on Guard resources from neighboring states.
The Governor can cancel furloughs if conditions got bad enough.   Then the issue becomes who will pick up the tab. Washington does sometimes. Going into the hurricane season, expect to hear more talk about furloughs and readiness.

First Coast News

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