Gov. Rick Scott on Monday placed all of Florida under a state of emergency as the projected path of Hurricane Irma could take the powerful storm toward the southern part of the state by the end of the week.
The declaration is intended to give local governments in all 67 counties time to prepare, the governor's office said.
"Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared," Scott said in a statement.
"Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm," he added.
Scott has been advising people the past couple of days – through Twitter – to prepare for the storm by visiting the Florida Department of Emergency Management's disaster page, which focuses on individuals, businesses and special needs Floridians.
"Families should take time today to make sure you have a disaster plan and fully-stocked disaster supply kit," Scott tweeted on Monday. "I am continuing to coordinate with emergency management officials as we monitor Hurricane Irma."
Hurricane Irma continues to fluctuate, but it's a Category 5 storm that may diminish only slightly if it passes over Caribbean Islands. The storm was moving towards the west at 13 mph, but most experts predict it will start to turn – but no one knows yet when that will happen. The National Hurricane Center said Monday that while it's too early to determine where the storm will go, "There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend."
Attorney General Pam Bondi also activated Florida's price gouging hotline for all consumers in Florida law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General's Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
Association and business preparations
Businesses should also be prepared for a storm to make sure operations can continue afterword. Following the series of storms in 2004, Florida Realtors created a preparation plan for local associations, though the recommendations generally apply to brokers too. For more info on other Florida Realtors efforts, including its tax-deductible Disaster Relief Fund, visit the website.
"In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared," Scott said in Monday's statement. "This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape."