President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Florida on Thursday afternoon, anticipating extensive damage from the approaching Hurricane Matthew.
Gov. Rick Scott had requested the federal designation Wednesday. He and Obama spoke by phone early Thursday afternoon, according to Scott’s office, and the White House announced the emergency declaration shortly after.
Federal agencies will now be authorized to coordinate disaster relief efforts and use federal aid to assist state and local governments in dealing with the storm. The emergency designation applies to 28 counties all along Florida’s coast, from Monroe in the Florida Keys to Nassau on the Georgia border.
Scott had criticized Obama for not signing an emergency declaration as quickly as the governor would have liked after Hurricane Hermine hit Florida last month. The president eventually approved the designation for six counties.
On Thursday ahead of Matthew, Scott and Obama spoke for a few minutes just after 12:30 p.m., Scott’s spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch, Bloomberg