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The Point, July 19, 2022: State leaders look for ways to make hurricane preparedness more cost effective

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Today's Florida stories

• Florida Storms: Hurricane preparedness is expensive. Emergency managers and community leaders are looking for a solution. "The national survey from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) found that Americans are looking for ways to prepare on a reduced budget. Nearly 30% of respondents reported being willing to spend $50 dollars or less on hurricane preparedness. That’s double the number from 2021. Around 57% report they plan to prepare for this hurricane season, down from 80% who responded in 2021. Only 47% plan to strengthen their home before a storm, which is down from 65% in 2021."

• Associated Press: The prosecutor recounted the coldness and cruelty of Parkland gunman as trial begins. "When jurors eventually get the case in the fall, they will vote 17 times, once for each of the victims, on whether to recommend capital punishment. Every vote must be unanimous. A non-unanimous vote for any one of the victims means Cruz's sentence for that person would be life in prison."

• WUSF-Tampa: Florida gas prices continue to fall, with some places paying below $4 a gallon. "It's the fifth straight week of declines, and down from the record of $4.89 a gallon in mid-June."

• City & State Florida: Here comes the SunRail: The future of commuter trains in Central Florida. "Even while it struggles to attract riders, the SunRail commuter train running through Central Florida has expansion plans that could easily cost a billion dollars or more."

• News4Jax: Florida AG urges President Biden to classify fentanyl as ‘weapon of mass destruction.’ "Recent mass overdoses in Florida have the Drug Enforcement Administration sounding the alarm. Overdoses linked to fentanyl have become so prevalent in the Sunshine State that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has come out and publicly urged President Biden to classify illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction."

• WLRN-Miami: Secretary of State Cord Byrd on election integrity and how a new crimes office impacts 2022 voting. "Many opponents — Democrats, for example — have said the Office of Election Crimes and Security is a solution in search of a problem, and that voter fraud is so rare that it doesn’t justify the kind of resources this office is receiving. Opponents cited the governor's admission that the state's 2020 election was secure. Byrd also believes the state’s 2020 election was secure."

• NPR News/WJCT: Data collected about heat in Jacksonville, Fla., will be used to help areas impacted. "As climate change warms the planet, volunteers mapped heat in Jacksonville, Fla., in a federal research project. The city will use data collected to help neighborhoods threatened by extreme heat."

• WFLA-Tampa: DeSantis announces launch of Florida public service workforce training program. "Gov. Ron DeSantis joined other state education leaders and lawmakers at Florida State College at Jacksonville to discuss state education programs and initiatives. He announced $6.5 million in funding for a public service workforce training program in Florida. The money is intended to help open three civics academies at Florida state colleges."

• Ocala Star-Banner ($): 'It could have been disastrous': A grim recap of the fire that hit a Marion schools building. "The fire was quickly extinguished by Ocala Fire Rescue after a motorist reported seeing smoke rising from the maintenance compound, a series of buildings that is home to the risk management and facilities departments and houses supplies to repair schools. Both the motorist and Ocala Fire Rescue are being credited with preventing the fire from spreading throughout the school district's maintenance compound."

• Fort Myers News-Press ($): Florida Department of Health warns of fecal bacteria at SWFL beaches, but many swim anyway. "Last week, 11 Southwest Florida beaches got poor marks after tests showed high fecal bacteria counts. At popular Bonita Beach, the Florida Department of Health is advising people to stay out of the water completely until it clears. Even so, plenty of people ignored the bright signs posted at the pavilion and planted in the sand Monday as they body-surfed, rafted and dove in the tainted waves."

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About today's curator

I'm Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I've found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today's edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news