Following a briefing with Bryan Koon, the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Governor Rick Scott called FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to request that all needed federal resources would be available for Tropical Storm Karen. The storm poses a threat to the Florida Panhandle and could strengthen into a Category 1 Hurricane. A hurricane watch has already been issued for Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf Counties.
Governor Rick Scott said, "Our number one priority is the safety of our citizens. We will not let the government shutdown in Washington in any way hurt our emergency response efforts in Florida. I spoke to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate this evening and got his personal assurance that no federal resource would be denied in response to Tropical Storm Karen, despite the ongoing federal shutdown.
"I have directed the Department of Emergency Management to continuously assess whether federal resources are being withheld because of the shutdown, and the state stands ready to step in to provide any emergency support needed.
"The National Guard has activated 20 guardsmen who will be directing the pre-positioning of equipment and personnel in order to respond to the storm. As we prepare for the potential impact of Tropical Storm Karen, it is imperative that all Florida residents and visitors be prepared. Those in the path of the storm should follow instructions from local officials to ensure safety."
Tropical Storm Karen is currently located in the Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatan Peninsula. The National Hurricane Center has advised that Tropical Storm Karen has maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour and is moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour.
Earlier today, the State Emergency Operations Center upgraded operations to a Level Two activation and Governor Scott declared a state of emergency in 18 Florida counties to allow for the potential deployment of resources as needs develop. The state of emergency is currently in effect for the following counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor Counties. Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch for Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf Counties.