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DeSantis expands State of Emergency statewide ahead of potential hurricane

The governor has also requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration in anticipation of impacts from the storm.

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded the State of Emergency for the entire state of Florida Saturday morning in the potential path of what could later become Hurricane Ian.

Initially, the government issued a State of Emergency on Friday for 24 counties. 

The governor has also requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration in anticipation of impacts from the storm.

Under this emergency order, members of the Florida National Guard will be activated and on standby awaiting orders.

On Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Florida's emergency declaration for the state's response to Tropical storm Ian.

"This declaration includes Category B Public Assistance, which provides emergency protective measures as well as direct federal assistance," FEMA said in a tweet.

"[The storm] has the potential to strengthen and become a major hurricane in the coming days and the Governor is urging Floridians and their families to begin preparing and ensuring their family emergency supply kit is ready and stocked with food, water, and medicine," the governor's office explains in a news release on Friday.

“Today, I signed an Executive Order issuing a State of Emergency due to the threat of Tropical Depression 9,” DeSantis said in a statement on Friday, before TD 9 officially developed into Tropical Storm Ian. “This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations. 

"We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”

The governor's emergency declaration is designed to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. For the Florida Division of Emergency Management, minutes matter.

"It helps us get to the point where we can execute quickly," Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said. "We don't have a bureaucratic process tied down, go into three or four or five different agencies to get sign-offs and signatures."

The declaration also frees up state funding for emergency uses, which Guthrie says is crucial to responding quickly. 

"What it does allow me to do is it allows me the opportunity to execute those contracts in a matter of minutes versus a matter of days and weeks," said Guthrie. 

To find resources to help you and your family prepare for the storm, click here.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Rapid intensification of Tropical Storm Ian is possible prior to any potential impacts to Florida by midweek, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned.

The tropical storm was located about 270 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, according to the 11 a.m. Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Ian is moving west at 15 mph.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cayman Islands, while a tropical storm watch is in effect for Jamaica.

Forecasters expect the storm to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane. After passing the island, Florida is next — Ian could be at or near major hurricane strength on Tuesday, with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

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