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DeSantis declares state of emergency as Idalia takes aim at Florida’s Big Bend

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(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 46 counties in Florida on Monday as Tropical Storm Idalia is predicted to make landfall as soon as Wednesday as a major hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Idalia to stroke the Big Bend of Florida as a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

“As you look at the track of that storm, you’re gonna see Northern Florida, North Central Florida and North Eastern Florida counties affected as well, so all of those counties are under state of emergency,” DeSantis said.

The second-term Republican governor expanded the state of emergency from 33 to 46 counties in an executive order signed on Monday morning.

DeSantis added that all county emergency centers in the storm’s path need to be activated and noted that these places should submit requests for aid now. DeSantis also urged Floridians in the path of Idalia, to heed warnings from officials when it comes to evacuating.

“There are going to be evacuation orders issued in all these Gulf Coast counties…all the barrier islands, places that are low-lying on the coast. You are going to be told to evacuate.” DeSantis said.

Evacuation orders could reach from Pinellas County, through Manatee County and up further into the Big Bend region, according to DeSantis.

DeSantis also noted that it is unnecessary to outrun the storm and added that the critical thing to remember is getting to higher ground and out of the hurricane’s path.

Fuel is also making its way to affected areas to ensure supplies do not run out.

“We have seven urban search and rescue teams ready to deploy to impacted areas, and of course we have Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife, all those folks will be ready to go.” DeSantis said.

State officials have ordered 2,500 Florida Guardsmen and airmen to prepare to be deployed and DeSantis pointed out that an additional 3,000 are currently being mobilized.

Schools in affected areas are being closed from Monday and Tuesday and could remain closed past Thursday depending on the severity of the damage.

DeSantis noted that tens of thousands of linemen are being staged and ready to be deployed to impacted areas to restore electricity.

“The goal is to get the power restored as quickly as possible, Floridians in the path of this storm, just be prepared to lose power,” DeSantis said.

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