Protecting Life is the State’s #1 Priority

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today visited Monroe, Volusia and Nassau counties to meet with emergency management officials as the state prepares for Hurricane Matthew, a life-threatening Category 4 storm. As of this evening, Florida is under significant tropical storm and hurricane watches. The tropical storm watch extends from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys to Golden Beach just north of Miami, and includes Lake Okeechobee. The hurricane watch extends from Golden Beach to the Brevard-Volusia county line. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has labeled Hurricane Matthew as an extremely dangerous storm. Florida is expected to feel impacts beginning Thursday and lasting through the weekend.

Governor Scott said, “This is a dangerous storm and it is never too early to evacuate. If you live in a low lying area, on a barrier island, or in an area prone to flooding, you need to consider making plans now to leave. I just spoke to all 67 Florida counties and I stressed to them the importance of getting their evacuation plans ready. The state stands ready with resources to help counties with safe sheltering and evacuation if any local communities need it. We expect to hear more tonight and early tomorrow morning from coastal counties on their evacuation plans. Our number one priority is protecting life. This storm has already killed multiple people and we should expect the same impact in Florida if people do not take this seriously.

“The eye of the storm continues to move closer to our state. There are now some forecasts that put a direct category four hit on Florida. Regardless if there is a direct hit or not, the impacts will be devastating. I cannot emphasize it enough that everyone in our state must prepare now for a direct hit.

“Many coastal counties are also preparing to open shelters in the morning for special needs, pets and general populations. The Department of Transportation has continued to clear roads for possible evacuations and the Florida Highway Patrol has continued to preposition troopers to help move people to safety.

“With a storm of this magnitude, we are very concerned about prolonged power outages. We know that when there is no power, lives are at risk. That is why I have stayed in constant contact with the utilities across the state and was glad to hear today that many have reported that they have already prepositioned resources to ensure they can respond quickly.”

The National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Matthew is a major category four hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour. Matthew is currently moving North at nine miles per hour. While some weakening of the storm is predicted as it impacts Cuba overnight, Matthew is forecast to maintain Category 4 status as it moves into the Bahamas and toward Florida.

Based on the current forecast, the state’s entire east coast from Monroe to Nassau County could experience tropical storm or hurricane force winds, beach erosion, rip currents and heavy rain. Yesterday, Governor Scott signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in every Florida county to ensure resources for evacuations, sheltering and other logistical needs across our state are readily available.

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The Florida Division of Emergency Management is the state agency charged with preparing for all types of disasters in Florida. The Division is the state’s disaster liaison with federal and local agencies, and is the lead consequence management agency for the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). The Division maintains the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Tallahassee and the State Watch Office, the 24-hour communications and command center for response coordination. Follow the Division on social media at facebook.com/FloridaSERT or on Twitter @FLSERT.

 

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