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Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, along with local declarations for Manatee, Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando and Sarasota Counties, in order to prepare for whatever impact Tropical Storm Isaac may bring.
In a statement Saturday afternoon, Scott said the "State Emergency Response Team prepares for these types of weather events year round. The Executive Order is a normal step in these preparations, activating resources to assist local officials in response to an emergency. Florida’s emergency response officials are accustom to protecting the 19 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors that are here every day."
On Friday, Pasco County joined Sarasota County in making preemptive local state of emergency declarations.
In a statement Saturday evening, Hillsborough County officials said they want to be prepared to take any necessary actions. The county's Emergency Policy Group, made up of County Commissioners, the Sheriff and the Mayors of all three cities, unanimously voted to declare a local state of emergency.
"The declaration allows emergency officials to open shelters, request aid and resources, utilize emergency funding and take protective actions including calling for evacuations, emergency alerts, and shelter-in-place orders. The Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is currently at a Level 2 Activation and is actively monitoring all developments of Tropical Storm Isaac."
Manatee County Commission will convene today at 3:30 p.m. at the Emergency Operations Center in order to declare a state of local emergency in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac. The declaration will allow for the implementation of emergency plans and procedures.
Officials said the county's Emergency Management is in "constant contact with state and regional emergency agencies."
Officials encourages those in the county to contact the Resident Information Center at 727-847-2411/8959 for information. The RIC open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The center is there "to assist residents and visitors' preparation for the approaching severe weather," officials said.
In a statement Saturday afternoon, Hernando County officials said the Hernando County Threat Advisory Committee was convened and it was decided that Hernando County would go under a local state of emergency as "a precautionary measure due to the progression of Tropical Storm Isaac."
"At this time, it is still too early to determine the exact impact that Tropical Storm Isaac may have on Hernando County as there is still a large amount of uncertainty in the progression of the storm," the statement said. "Residents are encouraged to continue to monitor their local news and weather stations for updated information on the storm."
No evacuations have been ordered at this time and no shelters have been opened.
According to a statement Thursday afternoon, the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center is at a" Level 3 monitoring status" as Isaac moves through the Caribbean on a general path toward the southwest Florida area.
"Declaring a local state of emergency is a proactive measure to allow Sarasota County to be prepared for any unforeseen expenditures due to the storm," the county said, "and to use the county's emergency operations plans." The reasoning applies to Pasco and any other counties that may declare states of emergency ahead of Isaac.
Officials said the declaration provides the county the authority to coordinate the allocation of resources in protecting the community, critical infrastructure and general welfare of citizens and visitors.
"Residents should continue to pay close attention to local news media for updates on the situation. Additional flooding, tornado warnings or other urgent updates can happen as Tropical Storm Isaac moves toward the southwest coast of Florida," officials said.
If you have questions, you can contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000, or visit www.scgov.net and click on the "All Hazards" link.
American Red Cross mobilizing in Tampa
More than 100 people with the American Red Cross gathered in Tampa ahead of Isaac.
The workers are getting direction as to how to respond if Isaac pummels the Bay area. Right now, leaders are sending them around the state to the locations where they might be needed the most.
"Whenever there is any type of activity in the tropics, we have volunteers ready to go well in advance of the storm," Red Cross spokeswoman Janet McGuire said.
Volunteers are coming from around the country. The Red Cross is expecting more than 400 people to help out.