Trump issues Florida emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Irma

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President Trump has declared a pre-landfall emergency for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ahead of Hurricane Irma, which is barreling toward the U.S.

Trump’s declarations, announced by the White House late Tuesday, authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the three areas.

“This will free up much needed federal funding and assistance as we prepare for Irma,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said during a news briefing, calling the Category 5 storm “incredibly dangerous.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello (D) also addressed Trump accepting his request to declare a state of emergency for the U.S. territory ahead of the storm, which is expected to bring winds up to 185 miles per hour.

Rossello said in a statement that the National Guard and police in Puerto Rico would begin evacuating “flood-prone areas” in the north and east parts of the island.

Scott declared a state of emergency for all of Florida’s 67 counties on Monday, and officials signaled that mandatory evacuations would begin in the southernmost parts of the state starting Wednesday morning.

The governor on Tuesday also ordered all tolls in Florida be waived to allow residents to more easily leave affected areas as the hurricane barrels toward the coast.

“Do not sit and wait to prepare. Get prepared now,” Scott said.

Irma is the second major hurricane sending officials in the southeast U.S. scrambling, after Hurricane Harvey slammed into southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana late last month.

“While the storm is not predicted to make landfall until later this week, the state and federal government must work together in order to help reduce the potential loss of life and destruction of property,” Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D) wrote to Trump on Tuesday, urging him to approve the Irma declaration.

“As we recently witnessed with Hurricane Harvey, preparation and up-front resources are paramount.”

Updated: 7:49 p.m.

Tags Bill Nelson Florida Marco Rubio
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