Gov. Scott declares state of emergency for 51 Florida counties

Hurricane watch in effect for Big Bend area
Posted at 9:41 AM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-01 06:18:11-04

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for 51 counties in North and Central Florida in preparation for Tropical Depression Nine. 

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In a written statement, Scott said the following: 

“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 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.”

Florida's governor first said 42 counties were under a state of emergency, but later added nine more counties Wednesday as Tropical Storm Hermine approaches the Gulf Coast.

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 says the emergency declaration eases access to disaster resources and funding, streamlines decision-making and allows the state to seek federal assistance.