Gov. Rick Scott requests president to declare state of emergency in 26 counties

Scott warns Florida residents to heed Hurricane Matthew evacuation plans

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott has requested the president to declare a state of emergency in 26 Florida counties ahead of Hurricane Matthew's impact on the Sunshine State.

"I just submitted a request to President Obama for an Emergency Declaration for the state of Florida in 26 counties, as well as Direct Federal Assistance in order to meet pre-landfall critical emergency needs of our communities. It is critical that President Obama quickly approves this request," Scott said.

The governor said he also directed the Florida National Guard to activate an additional 1,000 members to help with the effects of the storm.

"Fifteen-hundred members of the National Guard have now been activated," Scott said. "Florida has more than 5,000 National Guard members ready to be deployed if needed."

Scott has asked every coastal county in Florida to provide him with an evacuation plan.

Scott advised Wednesday that Florida residents who live in flood-prone areas make their evacuation plans now.

"It is never too early to evacuate," Scott said.

Scott said if an evacuation is ordered for any county, he said to leave immediately.

The governor warned of heavy traffic that always comes with a mandatory evacuation.

If anyone believes he or she will have to evacuate, Scott suggested that they not wait until an order is given.

"I hope no one in this state takes any chances," Scott said.

Scott also said that tolls would be suspended in counties where evacuations have been ordered. 

"Storm impacts will begin tomorrow morning in our state," Scott said. "There is still time to evacuate. Get out now if you are in an area with evacuations. If you make a decision not to leave before the storm, we cannot send someone to save you because you made a bad decision. Don't wait until you lose power. You need to leave before it is too late."

Scott said all state offices will be closed Thursday and Friday in the following 26 counties: Baker, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia.

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