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Biden Declares State of Emergency in Florida as Tropical Storm Idalia Strengthens

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FLORIDA, USA — As Tropical Storm Idalia gains intensity and aims for the Florida coast, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for the region on Monday, August 28, 2023.

Federal assistance has been ordered to supplement state, tribal, and local emergency response efforts, according to a statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.

The storm is heading toward Cuba and is expected to curve north through the Gulf of Mexico, with Florida squarely in its path.

The National Weather Service, NWS, has warned that Idalia could intensify into a Category 3 hurricane when it lands on Wednesday.

The president’s emergency declaration covers 33 Florida counties and empowers federal officials “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts aimed at alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” FEMA said.

“The risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as late Tuesday,” the NWS cautioned in a recent update.

Residents, particularly those in the Tampa Bay area, have been urged to prepare for the worst.

Some have already been evacuated in anticipation of a storm surge between 4 to 7 feet, a phenomenon where strong winds push seawater above its usual level and flood coastal lands.

“Storm surge and hurricane watches are in effect,” NWS further stated, emphasizing the importance of heeding any advice or orders from local officials.

As the state braces for the storm, emergency services, and residents alike are preparing to mitigate the impact of what is shaping up to be a major weather event.

Supplies such as water, food, and gasoline are being stockpiled, and shelters are being prepared to accommodate those needing to evacuate their homes.

“This is a serious storm, and the risks should not be underestimated,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press conference. “We are working closely with FEMA and other federal and local agencies to ensure that Floridians are as prepared as possible for the coming storm.”

Officials urge residents to stay updated on the storm’s progress and to finalize their emergency plans immediately.

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