TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — This afternoon, data from the Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter said that maximum winds have increased to 75 miles per hour, making Hurricane Hermine the first hurricane to hit Florida in 11 years. Governor Scott is urging all Florida residents and visitors to follow their safety plans and be ready for landfall. Florida has already started to see severe affects and landfall is expected around midnight.
Governor Scott said, “This afternoon I went to Wakulla County and met with Sheriff Charlie Creel, St. Marks Mayor Chuck Shields and other local leaders. They are already experiencing high water levels, flooding and rain, and this will continue to spread up and across the state. Hurricane Hermine is strengthening fast and it will impact the majority of our state. That is why everyone must be alert and follow their safety plans. If you are in an evacuation zone, evacuate now. There are around 20 shelters open in our state that you can go to immediately.
“The biggest threats to our state are storm surge, strong wind, heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes. There are many things Floridians can do to protect themselves from these storm impacts. Pay attention to weather alerts, your local news, and your local elected officials. Make sure your cell phone has emergency alerts enabled. Remember not to drive or walk through standing water. Watch out for flooded roads and road closures. First responders cannot get in to rescue those in need in the middle of the storm. If you need information about evacuation zones or what other safety tips you should follow, please visit FloridaDisaster.org/info.
“The Florida National Guard has more than 6,000 personnel ready to mobilize. FWC has special operations groups standing by with boats and search and rescue equipment to rescue people. Both the National Guard and FWC have pre-positioned equipment across the state to immediately respond. I have also been in touch with our utility companies and they have already prepositioned resources to respond.
“These preparations are important, but it is still up to every Floridian to do their part to make sure they and their families are ready. For the first time in over a decade, Florida is facing a hurricane. Hurricane Hermine is going to be here in the next few hours and everyone must take this seriously. Please remember that while we can rebuild your home or your business, we cannot rebuild the loss of life.”
The NHC has designated the system as Hurricane Hermine. Hurricane Hermine has sustained winds of 75 mph and is projected to make landfall in Florida tonight. A hurricane warning is in effect for coastal and inland areas between Gulf County and Dixie County. A tropical storm warning is in effect for 30 counties across North and Central Florida. A storm surge warning is in effect for coastal areas between Manatee County and Franklin County.
STATE OFFICE CLOSURES FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2:
As of now, state offices will be closed in the following 37 counties:
ALACHUA, BAKER, BAY, BRADFORD, CALHOUN, CITRUS, CLAY, COLUMBIA, DIXIE, DUVAL, FLAGLER, FRANKLIN, GADSDEN, GILCHRIST, GULF, HAMILTON, HERNANDO, HILLSBOROUGH, JACKSON, JEFFERSON, LAFAYETTE, LEON, LEVY, LIBERTY, MADISON, MANATEE, MARION, NASSAU, PASCO, PINELLAS, PUTNAM, ST. JOHNS, SUWANNEE, TAYLOR, UNION, WAKULLA, and WALTON.
The following counties have areas with mandatory evacuations. Please call the local emergency operations center with any questions:
Dixie County – Horseshoe Beach, Suwanee, Jena
Dixie Emergency Management Office – 352-498-1240
Franklin County – Apalachicola, east Point, Carrabelle, Lanark, St. George Island, Alligator and Bald Point, Dog Island, Rio Visa
Franklin Emergency Management Office – 850-653-8977
Taylor County – Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach, Cedar Island, Dark Island, Dekle, Spring Warrior, Nutall Rise, Ecofiania
Taylor Emergency Management Office – 850-838-3575
Wakulla County – St. Marks, Panacea, Spring Medart
Wakulla Emergency Management Office – 850-745-7200
Levy County – Cedar Key, Yankeetown, Fanning Springs, Fowlers Bluff, Otter Creek, Gulf Hammock, Rosewood and the West Side of Inglis
Levy Emergency Management Office – 352-486-5213
The following counties have areas with voluntary evacuations. Please call the local emergency operations center with any questions:
Gulf – Port St. Joe, St. Joe Beach, Beacon Hill, Simmons Bayou, St. Joe Peninsula and Indian Pass
Gulf Emergency Management Office – 850-229-9110
Jefferson – Fanlew Community
Jefferson Emergency Management Office – 850-342-0211
EMERGENCY SERVICES FUNCTIONS BY STATE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM
Transportation and Public Works & Engineering
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) district operations preparing maintenance yards; testing and inventorying equipment; placing emergency crews on standby; reviewing emergency plans; and preparing construction zones; and monitoring flood prone areas
S. Army Corps of Engineers — monitoring; securing key culvert structures on Lake Okeechobee and monitoring marine traffic
Water Management Districts — monitoring; preparing staff and vehicles; monitoring water levels and adjusting discharges as needed
Florida’s com Traveler Information System is one of the most effective ways drivers can keep informed about the state’s roadways during and following any severe weather
Firefighting and Search & Rescue
State is coordinating with the Fire Chief Association
State is coordinating Ambulance Strike Teams
Preparing for widespread response (flooding, possible high winds)
Health & Medical Services
Monitoring local special needs shelters across the state
State is coordinating with the Florida Sheriff’s Association to ensure resources such as personnel and equipment are ready to deploy
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is monitoring road and assisting local sheriffs if needed. Currently, the Skyway Bridge, Saint George Island Bridge and Apalachicola Bay Bridge are closed.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has special operations groups standing by with boats and search and rescue equipment if needed. They will also be activated in the morning to assist with debris removal.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is monitoring the storm and identifying assets and resources.
Business, Industry & Economic Stabilization
State activated Private Sector Hotline: 850-410-1403. Hotline is available for business inquiries about the storm, preparedness information and post-impact information.
Currently have 200 soldiers on state active duty in support of Huricane Hermine.
6,000 total guardsmen ready.
High wheeled vehicles in preparation for requests.
There are currently 29 state park closures.
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.