UPDATE: Florida Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency in panhandle because of severe flooding and provided an update on storm response efforts before traveling to Pensacola to meet with local leaders, assess damage, and provide support for recovery operations.
Governor Scott said, “Early this morning I issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency for 26 counties to facilitate the rapid response of state and local agencies in supporting families impacted by heavy rains. Our message to Floridians is this: Please pay attention to your local weather. These types of storms can spawn tornadoes and other quick-moving inclement weather. Also – stay away from high water. Do not try to cross high water. It can be extremely dangerous. Again, all state resources are standing ready to support local officials in the impacted areas and I plan to travel to the Panhandle later today to get a briefing from first responders on the ground.”
“This is a slow moving weather system that will continue east through our state, and families should take precautions to secure essential supplies should they lose power or can’t use the roads. Families should listen to their local leaders and follow their instructions. We’re continuing to work with local leaders on the ground to give them the support they need to keep families safe and get them back on their feet.”
Over the night, families in the Western Panhandle were inundated by rain. There are reports of 22 inches of rain impacting some communities.
Governor Scott said, “To support our local leaders, early this morning I instructed the National Guard to deploy 24 high-water vehicles to the impacted counties to assist with rescue and recovery operations.”
The Fish and Wildlife Commission is also deploying 31 vehicles and 13 boats to assist. State officials are monitoring the flash-floods affects on area rivers. The Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol are working together to monitor road conditions and keep families off unsafe roads. According to Gulf Electric more than 28,000 families are out of power. There are three shelters open in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa with over 80 people.
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP/970 WFLA) - Heavy rains and flooding have left people stranded in houses and cars in the Florida panhandle, the latest area of the country to be pummeled by a days long chain of severe weather.
Escambia County Spokesman Bill Pearson says rescue crews can't respond to some calls early Wednesday because of road flooding around Pensacola. He says some people have climbed into attics because of rising waters.
The county is moving boats and jet skis from beaches to streets for rescues.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Phil Grigsby estimated early Wednesday that 15 to 20 inches of rain had fallen in Pensacola in the past 24 hours, with a few more expected.
At least 35 people have been killed in storms that started Sunday and spread from Oklahoma to North Carolina.
The Salvation Army of Florida is deploying two mobile canteens (kitchens on wheels) to the Pensacola area after more than 24 inches fell in the area over night and more is expected Wednesday.
"Right now we are determining where the need is greatest and finding ways to get resources where they are needed," said Captain Robert Cornett, Salvation Army commanding officer in Pensacola. "This community has had its share of flooding, but I'm not sure we have ever seen anything like this."
The Salvation Army Florida Divisional headquarters in Tampa is placing additional mobile canteens from around north Florida on alert to mobilize if the situation in Pensacola and neighboring cities continues to worsen.
Since the severe weather hit over the weekend, The Salvation Army has served more than 4,500 meals, distributed more than 125 clean up kits and dispatched 16 mobile canteens. The Salvation Army expects to deploy more manpower as the weather continues to pound the area.
Smith said The Salvation Army will be sending resources such as water and clean up kits to Pensacola, however in-kind donations are not needed.
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