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Janet Cruz to collect relief supplies for victims of Michael

Florida House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz is accepting hurricane relief supplies to aid residents in the Florida Panhandle affected by the monstrous Hurricane Michael that made landfall Wednesday afternoon near Mexico Beach.

The storm made landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane, with wind speeds only a couple of mph shy of a Category 5. A quick survey of damage showed some homes destroyed as the wind tore off roofs and storm surge engulfed single story homes.

Tampa Bay area residents can drop off relief supplies from 9-5 seven days a week.

Suggested items include nonperishable packaged or canned food, juices, snack foods, paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights, batteries, new blankets, first aid kits, toiletries, baby and adult diapers, toys, books and games for children and pet care items.

“By all reports, Hurricane Michael is poised to inflict major destruction on the Panhandle, impacting the lives of thousands of our fellow Floridians,” Cruz said. “I am encouraging residents to drop-off critical supplies at my office to help those affected in their time of need and that we all pray for those in the path of this storm.”

Hurricane Michael is now the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle.

Cruz’s Tampa office is at 2221 North Himes Avenue, Suite B.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, about 200,000 homes were without power because of the storm and that number is expected to rise. Utility workers cannot begin assessing damage and making repairs until tropical storm-force winds subside and working conditions are safe.

Gov. Rick Scott is expected to give an update on hurricane status and damage assessed so far at 6 p.m.

Scott requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Donald Trump Wednesday to expedite federal assistance for communities affected by the storm. Florida already received a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration to assist with federal aid.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael was passing through the inland portion of the Florida panhandle and heading north toward Alabama and Georgia.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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