Portions of Florida under state of emergency as threat of powerful hurricane rises

Tropical storm Ian has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane before hitting Florida sometime next week.

Updated: September 24, 2022 - 11:21pm

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Two dozen Florida counties are under a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Ian moves through the Caribbean on a path toward the Sunshine State.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring the state of emergency and also requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration. Both are designed to help make available resources necessary for emergency protective measures. Members of the Florida National Guard are also on standby and may be called up to provide assistance.

The storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane before hitting Florida sometime next week.

According to the National Hurricane Center, “Strengthening is forecast in the coming days, and residents in Cuba and Florida should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place.”

The storm is expected to approach Jamaica n Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center, and the Cayman Islands and Cuba in the coming days. By the middle of next week, the system is forecast to approach the Florida peninsula.

DeSantis encouraged all Floridians to prepare and said the state is coordinating with local governments to track potential impacts of the storm.

Resources to help Floridians prepare can be found at floridadisaster.org/planprepare.

The 24 counties included in the disaster declaration are 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.

Attorney General Ashley Moody on Friday also activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline in areas covered by the state of emergency. In these counties, Floridians can report instances of severe price increases on essential commodities needed to prepare for the storm.

“If anyone suspects price gouging, report it to my office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM, filing online at MyFloridaLegal.com or using our free No Scam reporting app,” Moody said.

During a storm-related declared state of emergency, state law prohibits excessive increases in the price of essential commodities like food, water, hotel rooms, ice, gasoline, lumber, equipment and storm-related services.

Her office has also published tips to avoid price gouging. Violators are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation, up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.

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