WASHINGTON — President Trump quickly granted the request of Florida’s congressional delegation to declare a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Michael.
The National Hurricane Center today said there’s a hurricane warning in effect for the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Fla., and a tropical storm warning in effect for the Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border and Suwanee River, Fla., to Chassahowitzka, Fla.
“Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is expected, and Michael is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall in Florida,” NHC said. “Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States.”
The storm surge could be as high as 12 feet from Indian Pass, Fla., to Cedar Key, Fla., while the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, southeast Alabama, and southern Georgia could see up to a foot of rain in spots, which “could lead to life-threatening flash floods.”
Hurricane Michael was a Category 2 earlier today and strengthening as it barreled through the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to hit the Florida Panhandle mid-Wednesday.
“Based on the current forecast, this hurricane has the potential to severely impact communities across northern Florida and down the coast. We urge you to immediately approve this request to ensure that all federal resources are made available,” Florida lawmakers, led by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), wrote to Trump earlier today.
“Since 2016, Florida has been hit by Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, Irma, and Nate. While Floridians are still in the process of recovering from previous storms, federal resources are crucial to ensuring a successful response to Hurricane Michael. Preparation has been shown to be key in reducing the potential for loss of life and destruction of property,” they wrote. “As such, we strongly urge you to consider all of the circumstances referenced in our governor’s request, and approve this pre-landfall emergency declaration that will provide the assistance necessary to ensure the safety of Floridians.”
The emergency declaration covers Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwanee, Lafayette, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker counties.
“I’ll just say that we’re very well-prepared” for Hurricane Michael, Trump said in the Oval Office today. “We have another one coming, so we’ve done very well.”
“North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico; so many places. And we have another one coming in, a big one. Much bigger than they anticipated a week ago, seven days ago,” he continued. “I heard for the first time, there was a very small drop of weather that looked like it was forming, and now it’s pretty close to a Category 3, if it’s not already a Category 3.”
“So we are very well-prepared. FEMA’s ready. We’re all ready. Spoke with Governor Scott. Spoke to everybody that you have to speak to. And I think that hopefully we’ll get lucky, but maybe that won’t happen,” Trump said. “But we’re prepared.”
Nelson warned on CNN today that “if the eye is projected somewhere around Panama City, everything to the east is going to see a wall of water eight to 12 feet.”
“And a lot of those areas that that huge surge is going to hit are low lying areas and they have creeks and rivers that come down into them and flow into the Gulf of Mexico,” the senator added. “As the storm approaches, the water in those creeks and rivers will flow out into the gulf. And then when that surge comes, it comes and fills back up. And you can imagine how many miles inland that kind of wall of water is suddenly going to affect life and property. And when you combine all of that with 110, 120 miles an hour winds as it hits the coast, you’ve got measured destruction.”
Scott is running for Nelson’s Senate seat, and the incumbent Dem said “this is not the time for politics” with a hurricane so close to the midterms.
“Listen to law enforcement,” Nelson said. “Help save your life and your property by getting out of the low-lying areas.”