Attorney General Pam Bondi activated the state’s price gouging hotline, after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 31 counties in preparation for Tropical Storm Emily.
State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities — like food, water, hotels, gasoline and equipment — that is needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency.
People who suspect price gouging during the declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.
Scott declared a state of emergency, which gives the state flexibility to work with local governments to ensure they have the resources they need, on Monday morning. The declaration came as Tropical Storm Emily made landfall at Anna Maria Island, just west of Bradenton, around 11:10 a.m.
The Florida Highway Patrol closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge due to high winds, and a flood watch is in effect for much of the Tampa area. The storm is expected to cross the state in the coming hours.
The emergency declaration covers all of the counties in the central and southern regions of the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.