- Schools were closed in parts of Florida and Alabama ahead of the storm’s arrival.
- A state of emergency was declared for 23 of Florida’s 67 counties.
- Evacuations were not ordered, but residents were told to prepare for flooding.
Schools were closed and residents made final preparations for Tropical Storm Fred’s expected landfall Monday along the Florida Panhandle.
In the Tallahassee area, schools and colleges in Leon County were closed Monday due to the storm. School closures extended westward into the Florida Panhandle and even into southeastern Alabama as the entire region prepared for strong winds and flooding that would likely be triggered by Fred.
(MORE: Latest Forecast for Fred | Maps Tracker)
Sandbags were made available for residents up and down Florida’s coastline as final preparations were made for coastal flooding.
“There’s no such thing as ‘just a tropical storm’ to me,” Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon told The Weather Channel Monday morning.
One concern facing residents in areas like Panama City, Florida, is that the center of the storm is expected to pass near areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael in 2018. Though the impacts from Fred are expected to be far less than Michael brought to the area, some homeowners and business owners are still reeling from the Category 5 hurricane that struck three years ago.
“We still have places out there with blue tarps on roofs,” Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida Emergency Management, told The Weather Channel.
Days before the storm’s arrival, a state of emergency was declared in 23 Florida counties ahead of Tropical Depression Fred.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued the state of emergency Friday evening for the following counties, most of them in North Florida: Bay, Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
“We will not be issuing any mandatory evacuation orders or anything along those lines but we are asking anybody who lives in a mobile home, travel trailer or is at a campsite or lives on a live aboard vessel that they seek shelter with friends or family in a safe structure during the duration of the storm,” Kristen Livengood, public information officer for Monroe County in the Florida Keys, told weather.com Friday afternoon.
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Double-red flags were flying Monday morning at Panama City Beach as lifeguards warned people to stay out of the water No evacuations were ordered, but schools and government offices were closed Monday.
“We’ve certainly been in a lot worse than this, but that’s no reason to be complacent,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford told the Associated Press. “The less people out on the road, the better. We do expect some heavy rain from this storm.”
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