TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Gov. Rick Scott on Monday placed all of Florida under a state of emergency as the projected path of Hurricane Irma could take the powerful storm toward the southern tip of the state by the end of the week.
The declaration is intended to give local governments in all 67 counties time to prepare, the governor's office said.
“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” Scott said in a statement.
“Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm,” he added.
Scott has been advising people the past couple of days --- through Twitter --- to prepare for the storm by visiting the Florida Department of Emergency Management's disaster page: floridadisaster.org/getaplan/.
“Families should take time today to make sure you have a disaster plan and fully-stocked disaster supply kit,” Scott tweeted on Monday. “I am continuing to coordinate with emergency management officials as we monitor Hurricane Irma.”
As of 5 p.m. on Monday, the storm system, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, was located about 490 miles east of the Leeward Islands, which are about 1,400 miles east of South Florida.
The storm was moving towards the west at 13 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said Monday that while it's too early to determine where the storm will go, “There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend.”
Irma threatens Florida little more than a year after Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Northwest Florida. Hermine was the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade.
The new storm also threatens amid recovery efforts in Texas after the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey.
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Scott said in Monday's statement. “This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”
Here are important links to keep handy as you prepare for Irma. Know your evacuation zones, by visiting FloridaDisaster.org. Track the storm and get your FOX 35 Hurricane Guide at OrlandoHurricane.com. You can view and download the Hurricane Guide (PDF) by clicking here.