Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency throughout all of Florida after the latest forecasts show Tropical Storm Erika could rip through the middle of the state.
At about 8:45 a.m., Scott announced the order, which puts Bryan Koon, director of the state Division of Emergency Management, in control of emergency response and initiates a number of state laws allowing aid to come in to Florida from the outside in the event that it's needed and for state agencies to react.
The latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center at 8 a.m. Friday says Erika is no longer expected to become a hurricane. However, the tropical storm's path is forecast to go right up the middle of the state. At 2 a.m. Monday, the current forecast shows Erika making landfall in South Florida. At 2 a.m. Tuesday, it could be in the middle of the state, not far from Lakeland.
After a briefing from emergency management staff Thursday, Scott spoke to reporters, urging Floridians to start making preparations now using resources at floridadisaster.org and to ensure loved ones are prepared as well. You can find more resources online in the Times' Hurricane Preparedness Guide.