Governor Rick Scott says he will continue to be in constant communication with state and local emergency management officials to ensure they are prepared to respond to the potentially devastating effects of the Category 4 Hurricane Michael as it passes through the Florida panhandle and dumps rain and causes storm surge along the Gulf Coast, according to his latest hurricane update Wednesday.
Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties and received pre-landfall emergency declaration from President Donald Trump. That declaration provides additional federal resources and assistance including personnel, equipment and supplies and additional funding sources. That declaration also extends to 35 Florida counties.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Alabama/Florida border to the Suwannee River. Tropical Storm warnings are in effect for the Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border and from the Suwanee River to Chassahowitzka, Florida.
Tropical Storm watches are in effect from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, including the Tampa Bay area.
Storm surge warnings are in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to the Anclote River. Storm surge watches are in effect from the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including the Tampa Bay area as well as from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.
Scott is warning people in areas where storm impacts are already occurring to shelter in place and not to take to the roads.
More than 375,000 Floridians have already been ordered to evacuate, according to estimates from the State Emergency Response Team.
There are 54 shelters open and currently housing 6,700 people.
In addition to already announced preparedness actions, the state has
As of noon, there were nearly 30,000 people already without power. More than 19,000 power restoration personnel are pre-positioned to respond when dangerous conditions pass.
The Florida National Guard is performing a variety of missions including staffing 12 shelters, preparing 30 points of distributions, running two logistics staging areas in Tallahassee and Eglin and staffing the state logistics readiness center in Orlando.
The Guard has more than 1,000 high water vehicles, 13 helicopters and 16 votes preparing for missions including victim assistance, security and search and rescue.
The Florida Highway Patrol is cancelling regular days off and providing 24-hour enhanced coverage during and after the storm. The agency assigned 450 state troopers to the panhandle and Big Bend area to assist with evacuations and will deploy another 150 troopers to help with post-landfall efforts.
Roads and bridges in the panhandle are closing, according to Scott.
Efforts are in place ensure adequate food and water for affected residents including 1.5 million meals ready to eat, 1 million gallons of water and 40,000, 10-pound bags of ice.
These efforts are in addition to steps the state has already taken announced Wednesday.