Florida Readies for Tropical Storm Karen
Around the State
With Tropical Storm Karen expected to hit the Panhandle Sunday, Florida officials scrambled Friday to monitor the storm.
Just as he did during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Gov. Rick Scott canceled political appearances to monitor the storm. Scott announced Friday he will not attend Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) events in Orlando this weekend to keep tabs on the situation.
State agencies are urging Floridians to be prepared. The state Department of Transportation cautioned drivers in the Panhandle to be careful while the Public Service Commission (PSC) offered tips to prepare for the storm.
“The PSC has ensured that Florida’s utilities have extensive response plans that are implemented during storm emergencies,” Ronald Brisé, chairman of the PSC, said Friday. “Repairs and outages are addressed according to these prepared plans, in order to restore service to consumers as soon as possible.
“With the utilities’ storm preparation plans activated, we want consumers to be safe and be prepared before, during, and after a storm, such as Tropical Storm Karen,” Brisé added.
Despite the federal shutdown, state officials are confident the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is ready to help the Sunshine State if needed. Scott spoke to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on Thursday night to ask for FEMA help if warranted.
“Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our citizens,” Scott said Thursday night. “We will not let the government shutdown in Washington in any way hurt our emergency response efforts in Florida. I spoke to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate this evening and got his personal assurance that no federal resource would be denied in response to Tropical Storm Karen, despite the ongoing federal shutdown.
“I have directed the Department of Emergency Management to continuously assess whether federal resources are being withheld because of the shutdown, and the state stands ready to step in to provide any emergency support needed,” Scott added. “The National Guard has activated 20 guardsmen who will be directing the pre-positioning of equipment and personnel in order to respond to the storm. As we prepare for the potential impact of Tropical Storm Karen, it is imperative that all Florida residents and visitors be prepared. Those in the path of the storm should follow instructions from local officials to ensure safety.”
Despite the shutdown, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., ordered offices opened in the Panhandle and the Big Bend Friday.
“To help Floridians who may be impacted by Tropical Storm Karen this weekend, Senator Rubio is recalling three furloughed Senate employees and reopening our Tallahassee and Pensacola offices next week,” Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, informed the media Friday.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the most likely period of impact will begin in Florida early Sunday morning.
Here's what to look for:
- 3 to 5 feet of inundation. Flooding of non-elevated structures or those built on slabs is possible, but the main concern will be flooded roads along the coasts, bayous, bays and low-lying areas.
- Winds, as Tropical Storm Karen approaches. Sustained tropical storm-force winds are expected to begin Saturday evening. Maximum winds are forecast to be in the 40-to-60 mph range with gusts to 75 mph.
- Damaging winds are likely. Poorly anchored mobile homes may be heavily damaged or destroyed. Some well-anchored mobile homes will have some damage to roofs, walls, and windows. Some homes of frame construction may sustain some damage with minor to moderate roof damage mainly to shingles, and possibly broken windows due to flying debris. Loose outdoor items could become projectiles, causing additional damage and possible injury. Areas will experience power outages with some downed power poles. Large branches and some healthy trees will snap. Some trees will be uprooted, especially where the ground is saturated.
- Inland flooding. There is a low threat of inland flooding from heavy rainfall.
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