TAMPA, Fla. — In an abundance of caution, a local state of emergency has been declared in Hillsborough County in response to Hurricane Dorian.


This gives County Administrator Mike Merrill the authority to carry out emergency responsibilities such as opening shelters and ordering evacuations.

"People don't have to evacuate hundreds of miles. The better option is to look for something closer," Merrill said Thursday. "Either one of our shelters, friends, relatives and that's the better choice because the roads will get crowded and that will cause additional problems."

The county has partially activated its Emergency Operations Center. At this time, a full activation is expected over the weekend.

"Having this opportunity while it has slowed down to get all our teams in place, taking a look at all our emergency contacts, making sure that they're all synched up and closing all the gaps that might be there," said Timothy Dudley, Emergency Management Director.

The county is urging people to get prepared by stocking up on non-perishable food and water, having a hurricane kit, getting gas and taking advantage of sandbag stations.

"That's extremely important, knowing you're going to have to be self-sufficient at some point," said Sheriff Chad Chronister.