It’s been 11 years since a hurricane made landfall in Florida, but that all could change tonight as Tropical Hermine gains force in the Gulf of Mexico.
That, said Gov. Rick Scott, means people need to remember these storms can be deadly.
“The most important thing we ought to all put in our minds is this is life-threatening,” Scott said Thursday at the state’s Emeregency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “We haven’t had a hurricane in years. So many people have moved to our state and we always have visitors.”
An hour earlier, Scott was briefed by state and federal emergency officials at the EOC.
He said Hermine is expected to make landfall in the Panhandle overnight and stressed the importance of preparation: Get three days of food and water, make sure you have batteries on hand.
And a concern for a distinctly modern hurricane: “Charge your phone.”
But he also said it’s important for people to remember that during and after the storm, first responders may not be able to help people, and so preparation is key.
“We will do everything we can to help you prepare but you are responsible,” Scott said. “If there’s a lot of needs in the beginning, they’ll be assessed as biggest needs first.”
In five coastal counties, some people are under mandatory evacuations: Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor, Dixie and Levy. In Walton, Jefferson and Gulf counties, some coastal regions have voluntary evacuations.
Bryan Koon said that despite the 11-year respite from hurricanes, he believes Floridians have heard the message and are prepared for the storm.
“Those folks are heeding that warning,” he said. “They understand how potentially deadly that storm surge can be.”
For his part, Scott says he will weather the storm in Tallahassee, the largest population center likely to take the brunt of Hermine tonight. He’ll also be in Wakulla County in the afternoon helping to hand out supplies.