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Gov. Rick Scott tours the Caloosahatchee River to see toxic blooms firsthand. (Image via WGCU)

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Rick Scott expands emergency declaration, asks for federal aid

With Hurricane Michael expected to blast Florida this week, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday expanded a state of emergency to include 35 counties and asked President Donald Trump for a declaration that would help provide federal assistance.

Scott on Sunday issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 26 counties in Northwest Florida, the Big Bend region and North Central Florida. That declaration stretched from Escambia County in the western end of the Panhandle to Columbia County in North Central Florida and Levy County along the Gulf Coast.

The expansion Monday added Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union and Baker counties.

Also, Scott asked Trump to declare what is known as a “pre-landfall emergency” for the state. Hurricane Michael is expected to hit Northwest Florida or the Big Bend in the middle of the week as what the National Hurricane Center has described as a “major hurricane.”

The storm is expected to bring power outages, storm surge, rains, flash flooding and tornadoes.

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