“The FL panhandle needs to be prepared for a direct hit with sustained hurricane force winds,” Scott wrote on Twitter on Monday.
In Gulf County alone, the first to begin ordering residents of low-lying areas to higher ground, mandatory evacuation notices encompassed an estimated 3,800 homes, said Jessica Sasich of the county’s emergency operations center.
Many are located in the coastal town of Port St. Joe, the county’s largest municipality, lying directly in the hurricane’s projected path, she said.
In neighboring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.
MICHAEL KILLS 13 IN CENTRAL AMERICA
As the storm moved north it battered Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 80 mph (130 kph), the Miami-based hurricane center said.
Torrential downpours and flash-flooding over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America after Michael formed off the coast of northern Honduras.
In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. Some beach town residents were left to decide on their own for the time being whether to leave their homes.