Gov. Scott declares State of Emergency due to severe weather across Fla.


PENSACOLA, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties to support emergency response operations for communities inundated by heavy rains.

The National Weather Service issued Flood or Flash Flood Warnings or both for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, Franklin, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Alachua and Levy counties.

The Florida National Guard has activated approximately 75 personnel and 24 high-water vehicles at the direction of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.  The assets are deploying to several counties in the Florida Panhandle in response to the state of emergency there caused by severe weather and flooding.

The Florida National Guard "remains ready and committed to provide the necessary forces in support of continued weather threats to Florida," said Lt. Col. James Evans, Florida National Guard Public Affairs Officer. "We currently have approximately 9,000 troops available to support emergency operations." 

Heavy rains and flooding have left people stranded in their houses and cars in the Florida Panhandle, the latest area of the country to be pummeled by a days-long chain of severe weather.

The Florida Highway Patrol says a 67-year-old woman has died in severe flooding in the Panhandle, bringing the total number of deaths from a string of U.S. storms to at least 36.
The agency said Wednesday that Betty Faye Word drove her Mercedes Benz into high water Tuesday night and it submerged. She did not escape.

Attorney General Pam Bondi today activated the price gouging hotline in light of the Governor’s Declared State of Emergency. 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 (1-866-966-7226). The price gouging law only applies within the areas of the declared state of emergency.

Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson says fire rescue crews aren't able to respond to some calls early Wednesday because of road flooding around Pensacola. He says some people have climbed into their attics because of rising waters.
The county is moving boats and jet skis from beaches to streets for rescues. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is lending boats and officers to help.
Schools and most government offices in the area are closed Wednesday.
The deadly storms started Sunday and spread from Oklahoma to North Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.