Storm Watch : Florida Governor Declares State of Emergency Amidst Impending Hurricane Michael

Florida Governor, Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency Monday morning in preparation for Hurricane Michael to make landfall in the Florida Gulf Coast. According to the National Hurricane Center, “Michael is forecast to be a dangerous major hurricane…and (a) life-threatening storm surge is possible along portions of the Florida Gulf.” The committee continues to advise that “Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threating flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of the Carolinas through Thursday” (NHS). As a result, prompting the Florida Governor, to issue a State of Emergency.

Originating as a tropical storm system, Hurricane Michael intensified Sunday becoming a Category 1 hurricane, where we can see an increase of wind speed from 35 mph to 75 mph within the course of a 24-hour period. Hurricane Michael is forecasted to travel inland over the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend regions on Wednesday and will continue to travel northeastward Wednesday night into Thursday morning. 

The NHS issued a warning that “Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area along the U.S Gulf Coast…with tropical storm conditions by Tuesday night or early Wednesday”. The NHS continues to warn of the dangers of storm surges, high winds, and heavy rainfall that will accompany Hurricane Michael. 

Governor Rick Scott reassured residents that Federal Aid has already been requested and that a team from FEMA is currently in Florida providing federal assistance. The FEMA team is comprised of experts from Homeland Security, the EPA, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Army Core of Engineers. In addition to having federal aid, Governor Rick Scott will be expanding the declaration of state of emergency to include more counties within the affected areas. 

Currently a state of emergency is in place for the following areas: Escamia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsen, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrest, Levy and Citrus counties. In addition to the declaration, Governor Scott has activated 500 guardsmen from the Florida National Guard to assists with planning and logistics in preparation for Hurricane Michael.

The Agency for Health Care Administration have activated the Emergency Status System for health care facilities within the afflicted areas. The AHCA is tracking their storm readiness to take into account available generators, emergency contacts, bed availability, and utility company information. Other agencies are also taking proper precautions such as The Florida Department of Transportation and State and Local law enforcement. “The Florida Highway Patrol is actively monitoring the storm and ready to assist with any weather-related missions…(and) is making preparations for 342 state troopers to activate to 12-hour shifts”. In addition, the FHP is has prepared two Quick Response Force teams to deploy on a moment’s notice to any area within the state of Florida (flgov.com). 

For updates on available shelters, road closures, evacuation orders and routes, please visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/info 
Please contact local and state emergency services for any immediate assistance. You may also contact the following numbers for additional help: 
The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) : (800) 342-3557 
The State Emergency Operations Center Media Line: (850) 921-0217