Gov. Scott: Michael could become Category 3 hurricane

Gov. Rick Scott addressed the public Sunday evening following a briefing he had with emergency management officials on Tropical Storm Michael. Here is what he said:

"Good evening, I just received a full briefing on Tropical Storm Michael from the National Hurricane Center and state and local emergency management officials.

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At this time, our local partners have no unmet needs. Today, I declared a state of emergency at 26 Florida counties across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend in preparation for Tropical Storm Michael.

This allows resources to move quickly to every community in the storm’s path as we get prepared.

I also directed the State of Emergency Operation Center to activate to a level two, which means the State Emergency Response Team, SERT, is activated and is in coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.

At my direction, the State Emergency Operations Center will go to a level 1 at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning.

We also have a team from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) here tomorrow to provide federal assistance.

That includes experts from Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, (Department) Health and Human Services and the Army Corps (of Engineers).

Here's what we know right now: As the storm approaches, the risk of tornadoes will be greater on the east side of the storm.

Right now, Tropical Storm Michael has 50 mph winds and is forecast to move slower and grow stronger, making landfall as a Category 2 storm midweek along the Northeast Gulf Coast.

That means the Panhandle and Big Bend can see winds in excess of 100 mph. Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state.

This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.

The National Hurricane Center is expected to be issuing tropical storm and hurricane watches tomorrow morning. We are expecting 2 to 4 inches of rain, and some areas might see 5 inches of rain.

Tropical Storm Michael may bring a dangerous storm surge to many areas even those outside the path. If this storm hits Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge.

You could not hide from storm surge, so get prepared and get out if an evacuation is ordered. This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared.

We all saw the damage Hurricane Hermine did to the neighborhoods in its path just two years ago, and

Tropical Storm Michael is forecast to have similar impacts. Here is what the state is doing right now.

The Florida National Guard has 5,500 guard members available for deployment, and right now I am activating 500 for planning logistics and response.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is actively monitoring Tropical Storm Michael and is ready to respond. They put 40 additional law enforcement officers from outside the projected path on notice to deploy.

This includes a variety of specialized equipment including shallow drive boats, ATVs, air boats and 4-wheel drive vehicles. The Department of Transportation is actively monitoring Tropical Storm Michael and is preparing crews in anticipation of landfall in the Panhandle.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration is in contact with healthcare facilities to ensure they have the resources they need. There is nothing (we won’t) say or do that'll make sure that every family and visitor in Florida is prepared for every possible impact for this storm.

We know that storms like Michael are absolutely devastating and life-threatening, and that is why we have to take this very seriously. Families should take this opportunity to get three days worth of food and water and make sure all medications are ready.

Check on your neighbors and listen to local officials. For local governments, let’s make sure everyone has what they need.

I'm calling on every local government to manually confirm that their mutual aid agreements between utilities, municipalities and co-ops in Florida have been signed and are in place and effective so that there is no delay in power restoration for all Floridians

Two years ago, I asked for these agreements to be put in place because mutual aid agreements are critical They establish a relationship in advance and if you don't have an agreement with all available utility departments now, we need to know.

It is so important for the power to be restored quickly and these agreements can make a huge difference in the response after the storm.

This has to be a top priority.

I also want all local governments to do a review of their resources and supplies including generators and sandbags, and all of their sheltering abilities to make sure they have what is needed, just like the mutual aid agreements.

Local governments should review their resource contracts today. The state has funded emergency management in every county. So let’s all stay safe, stay alert to weather updates and watch this storm closely.

It can still change direction and impact any part of our state. Today is the time to get a plan.

Do not put it off.

There isn’t any reason not to be prepared to keep your family safe.

Visit www.floridadisaster.org to make a plan and get information on road closures, shelters and evacuation routes.

You can follow @FLSERT or @FlGovScott on Twitter for updates on Tropical Storm Michael."

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