DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Florida Governor Lawton Chiles made an appearance at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday to personally thank many of the firefighters and National Guard troops who have been waging war against wildfires sweeping across...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Florida Governor Lawton Chiles made an appearance at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday to personally thank many of the firefighters and National Guard troops who have been waging war against wildfires sweeping across East Central Florida.
The Governor arrived Tuesday morning and addressed approximately 250 firefighters and National Guardsmen in a hospitality tent that was initially designed to serve hundreds of race fans. The Governor delivered a personal and heartfelt thank you to the members of the firefighting team in attendance and expressed the sincere gratitude of the citizens of the State of Florida.
"I have been overwhelmed by the job that these firefighting crews have done," said Governor Chiles. "We want to thank each and every one of them from the bottom of our hearts for their untiring efforts. We have 44 other States involved with this effort and firemen from all over the country. Let me say this, if another State needs our help, call us, because we'll be there.'
"I want to sincerely thank the Speedway for all of their efforts and for the use of their facility. I know there must have been great disappointment when they postponed their race (the July 4 Pepsi 400 was rescheduled for October 17). But, to turn all of their attention toward the firefighting effort is fantastic. I saw a lot of men and women eating hot meals this morning that otherwise they would not have had if it wasn't for the Speedway."
For several days, the Speedway and its facilities have served as a safe haven for evacuees who were forced from their homes as wildfires continue to threaten Central Florida. Nearby, a Speedway-owned building, which has been transformed into a shelter complete with showers, private rooms, hot meals and television sets, served as a comfortable refuge for more than 150 civilian evacuees.
Additionally, hundreds of firefighters from across the country and National Guardsmen are calling the world-famous facility home. More than 300 firefighters, including men and women from North and South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee, have used the Speedway for accommodations. More than 28,000 meals have been served to firefighters either at the Speedway or in the field over the last two weeks.
The Speedway is also serving as a "logistics support area" for the National Guard. The Speedway's central location and structural diversity is proving to be ideal in meeting the Guard's wide array of needs. More than 70 soldiers and various military equipment from Camp Landing in Starke, Fla., have moved onto the Speedway's 480-acre complex under the direction of Major General Ronald O. Harrison.