With Erika’s path getting closer to the state of Florida, Governor Rick Scott has declared a formal state of emergency. According to experts, the most recent projected path of the tropical storm has moved to the west, which means the likelihood of Tampa Bay and other parts of Florida being hit hard with rain has increased. The problem is that Tampa Bay is already dealing with flooding issues.
As Governor Scott stated this morning, if more rain comes that is the greatest concern at this time. Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center confirmed that South Florida will be hit as early as Monday. However, with the new path identified, Erika will go right up the spine of Florida into the northern part of Tampa.
James Franklin, meteorologist with the hurricane center expressed that the next 24 hours of the storm’s development are critical. Although the trend consists of gradual lessening, meaning that yesterday Erika was called a hurricane and today a tropical storm, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding its path.
The problem is that depending on where exactly Erika decides to go, the Hispaniola’s mountains could help to break up or disrupt the storm entirely. Unfortunately, it is still too soon to tell. Even so, heavy rain is predicted, which will compile an existing problem of excessive water.
According to Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the hurricane center said that as far as the amount of rain that could hit Tampa Bay it is just too early to know. He added that in addition to the state of Florida, certain regions within South Carolina and Georgia could also experience tremendous rain over the next few days.
Regardless, experts are not taking any chances. For that reason, a number of cities and counties to include Pasco and Tampa have already started to take action by creating sandbag fill stations.
Scott reminded the people of Florida that while Tampa Bay is at greatest risk, the entire state could be hit hard. For that reason and after Erika’s trajectory was adjusted, the emergency declaration was made. Scott hopes making an early declaration will give state officials and residents more time to act.
As part of the declaration, highway tolls and rules for allowing emergency vehicles and crews to move throughout the state were waived. In addition, the National Guard has been activated, pharmacists are now authorized to fill emergency prescription medication doses, and disaster volunteers are released from regular duties. In addition, Governor Scott is reading out to the federal government for assistance if any should be needed.
For people interested in picking up sandbags, various locations throughout
Tampa will be open to include fire stations, parks, and businesses like Bobby Hicks Pool, Tampa Solid Waste, the West Pasco Government Center, Jackson Heights Playground, and C Barn, among others.