TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday warned residents to prepare for Hurricane Hermine, which is headed toward the Florida Panhandle.
Scott said that storm surge up to 8 ft. is expected. “This is life threatening,” he said, emphasizing that people should prepare and those who need to go to a shelter should do so now. “We can not rescue you…. you are responsible.”
Scott also announced all state offices closed at noon as the state has mobilized 6,000 members of the National Guard who are ready to respond when Hermine hits Florida.
Earlier on Thursday, Scott added nine more counties to a state of emergency declaration as Hurricane Hermine approaches the Gulf Coast.
Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release Wednesday that Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Manatee, Osceola and Sarasota counties are now covered by his emergency order. That brings the total to 51 counties.
Hermine developed into a tropical storm earlier Wednesday with sustained winds of 45 mph. The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will come ashore as early as Thursday night along Florida’s upper Gulf Coast, possibly as a hurricane.
Scott said the emergency declaration eases access to disaster resources and funding, streamlines decision-making and allows the state to seek federal assistance.
“Last night, hurricane and tropical storm watches were issued along Florida’s Gulf Coast from Pasco County to Gulf County. We also learned that the National Hurricane Center expects Tropical Depression Nine to become a Tropical Storm sometime today. It is crucial that every Floridian has a plan in place to ensure their families, homes and businesses are fully prepared. Floridians can make their own plan at FLGetaPlan.com. I have been closely monitoring this storm’s development and our emergency management officials have been working hard to make sure we are ready to respond to any potential impacts. By declaring a state of emergency in advance of this storm, we are ensuring that state, regional and local agencies can work together to meet the needs of our communities. We will continue to do all we can to keep our families and visitors safe and informed as this storm approaches our state,” said Scott.