MIAMI – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday declared a state of emergency for 24 counties as National Hurricane Center tracking models indicate Florida could be hit by a major hurricane next week.
The order applies to the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.
The declaration frees up funding for protective measures and places the Florida National Guard on standby.
The weather system became Tropical Storm Ian on Friday night.
It was initially expected to be named Hermine, but another tropical storm took that name Friday after forming off the Canary Islands.
The National Hurricane Center on Friday said heavy rains might start to affect South Florida on Monday, with some limited flash flooding and urban flooding.
The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday imposed port condition “Whiskey” for Port Everglades, indicating gale force winds could occur within 72 hours.
Attorney General Ashley Moody activated a hotline for people to report price gouging. The hotline number is 1-866-966-7226.