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Hermine has passed but danger has not, Rick Scott warns

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Don’t let your guard down now that Hurricane Hermine has passed, Gov. Rick Scott urged Friday.

“We know there is a lot of work left to do following this storm. We will spend the coming days assessing the damage and responding to the needs of our communities and Florida families,” he said.

“The number one thing is to stay safe. While the storm has passed through our state, everyone must still take precautions and stay tuned to local weather stations for updates on road and weather conditions.”

Scott warned of treacherous coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, downed trees and power lines and nonfunctioning traffic lights.

“Do not travel on the roads until they are clear, and it is safe to do so,” he said.

More than 253,000 Floridians were without power — 93 percent in Wakulla County; 84 percent in Hamilton; 68 percent in Leon; 67 percent in Lafayette; 66 percent in Madison and Taylor; and additional outages elsewhere.

“This number will continue to fluctuate throughout the day,” Scott said.

“I have contacted utility companies across the state, and they are working to restore power. I have also spoken with local leaders, sheriffs and first responders to make sure they have everything they need to keep their communities safe.”

And sure enough, a westbound driver on Interstate 10 could pass a steady stream of utility repair trucks streaming into the storm zone.

Schools remained closed in 35 counties and state offices in 37.

Scott praised emergency personnel — “heroes,” he called them — who rescued 18 people from rising waters in Pasco County. State game officers conducted additional rescues in multiple counties. The National Guard was standing by.

“We are also incredibly grateful for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Florida Baptist and the many volunteers who continue to lend a helping hand to those impacted by this storm,” Scott said.

Neighbors helped neighbors, too, volunteering labor and chainsaws to clear fallen trees and branches.

“Florida knows how to prepare, and we also know how to lend a hand to our neighbors in need,” Scott sad. “Florida is a resilient state, and we will all come together to rebuild and recover from this storm.”

You can keep abreast of conditions at the Florida Division of Emergency Management website.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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