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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott declares emergency as Tropical Storm Colin approaches

Gov. Rick Scott prepared to potentially activate 6,000 National Guard troops, declared a state of emergency in more than half the state's counties and urged all Floridians to stay home if they don't need to be on rain-slicked roads.

Tropical Storm Colin is moving in a north northeasterly direction at about 16 miles per hour, Scott said after a briefing with meteorologists and county disaster preparedness officials.

Landfall was expected late Monday afternoon or early evening. Scott said the storm surge would likely be reduced because it would be close to low tide in many areas - a "positive" development, he said.

"It's going to impact pretty much our entire state," Scott said at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. "We have the risk of tornadoes, lightning, hail, rip currents -- all these issues ... Everybody needs to follow this and be prepared."

Added Scott: "We have notified our National Guard and so we have the potential to activate 6,000 National guard members around the state."

Florida has not been struck by a hurricane since 2006. But just six days into the 2016 hurricane season, there have already been three named storms.

Scott emphasized the need for Floridians to be vigilant, noting that many residents moved here since 2006 and have never personally experienced a hurricane.

"If you don't need to go out," Scott said, "don't go out. Be prepared. Follow your local news." With the threat of electric power outages, he urged all Floridians to have battery-powered portable radios.

Flooding is a major threat in low-lying areas close to the Gulf, particularly in Franklin, Taylor, Dixie and Levy counties.

"The positive right now is that it's a fast-moving storm," Scott said. "It's not going to be like Debbie was (in 2012) ... it's not going to sit over the state."

He said the first named storm of the season in Florida, with massive amounts of standing water, underscores the need for the federal government to accelerate approval of money to fight the Zika virus.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 11:03am]


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