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Rick Scott on Irma: ‘We haven’t had a landfall like this since Andrew’

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Rick Scott said Tuesday that all Floridians need to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s arrival by stocking up with three days of water and three days of food.

The only trouble with that is, those in the Tampa Bay area (and other regions) are having a hard time finding bottled water.

“When you go to the grocery store, take what you need, don’t take too much,” he told reporters in East Tampa Tuesday afternoon. The governor was in town to celebrate an increase in jobs at the corporate headquarters of Cognizant Technology Solutions in East Tampa, but all eyes and ears were on the latest updates on Hurricane Irma, scheduled to hit Florida within the next week.

Scott heard this morning about shortages of water, noting: “We’re doing everything we can. We’re talking to retailers. We’re talking to the individuals who bring fuel in, to make sure that we have plenty of resources in here.”

“If you think you might need to go to a shelter, find out where the shelter is going to be,” he said. “Know where your evacuation routes are,” he added, telling people that they could go to and will inform people all the things that they need.

No one knows where the storm will hit, but one place where Scott is telling people to evacuate from starting tomorrow is in Monroe County.

“If you’re in the Keys, you’ve gotta get out,” he said.

Scott has already called up 100 members of the National Guard to prepare for the storm, with an additional 7,000 to be called up Friday to report for duty. The emergency orders “also allows us, our semis, people doing deliveries to get the water and food into stores and everything,” he added.

The governor has not heard back from a request for President Donald Trump to declare a pre-landfall emergency for the state. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seconded the call, writing a letter to Trump: “While the storm is not predicted to make landfall until later this week, the state and federal government must work together in order to help reduce the potential loss of life and destruction of property. As we recently witnessed with Hurricane Harvey, preparation and upfront resources are paramount.”

Florida sent approximately 130 members of Fish and Wildlife Commission to Houston to assist in the recovery effort for Hurricane Harvey last week, most of whom have returned to Florida. Scott said the information that state officials have taken from the aftermath of that epic event is that resources must be thrown at the situation from the get-go.

“One of the things that I talked with the acting director of FEMA today (Robert Fenton) is ‘don’t wait,'” he told reporters. “But we haven’t had a landfall like this since Andrew,” he said referring to the August 1992 storm, the last Category 5 rainmaker to hit the U.S. mainland.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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