2,500 National Guardsmen ready to respond to Michael, tolls lifted in Panhandle


As Hurricane Michael continues its path toward the Florida Panhandle, the state is preparing for a Category 3 storm landfall.

“Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades. This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous,” said Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday.

Scott said 2,500 National Guardsmen are ready to respond. 

There are also 120 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers ready to respond with small boats, ATVs and airboats. 

Nearly 350 Florida Highway Patrol troopers are on standby. Some will be assigned to monitor bridges and roadways, and will close them if necessary.

Scott said the Florida Department of Transportation has waived all tolls on toll roads in the Florida Panhandle.

The governor urged Florida residents to prepare for Michael. “Every family must be prepared now. Remember we can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life. Take this seriously and keep your family safe.”

Many Floridians have already swung into preparation mode. Lines at gas stations have been long since early Monday, and hardware stores are already starting to empty their shelves as people get plywood to board their homes and businesses.

Some store managers say they sold out of generators early Monday when people started to learn more about the storm and it’s possible strength.

Governor Scott has declared an emergency in 35 counties and asked the White House for a pre-landfall disaster declaration.

He reminds residents to follow evacuation orders. “This storm can kill you. First responders can not come out and save you.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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