States of emergency have been declared for 26 northern Florida counties and the state of Alabama, suspending certain trucking regulations, in preparation for Hurricane Michael, which is expected to make landfall along the Florida panhandle Wednesday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued the declaration Sunday. Truck drivers providing direct assistance to the storm-affected areas will be able to operate outside of normal hours of service regulations. “Direct assistance” ends when a driver or truck is used in interstate commerce not directly supporting the emergency relief effort.
Counties included in the declaration are: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties.
On Monday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued the emergency declaration in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and debris from high winds and heavy rain associated with the storm. The declaration, like Florida’s, suspends hours regs for driver hauling materials, goods, supplies and services in the aftermath of the storm.
Hurricane Michael was upgraded Monday morning from a tropical storm to a hurricane, and as of 1 p.m. Central time Monday, the storm is forecast to hit the Florida coastline as a Category 3 storm. The biggest threats to land, according to the National Hurricane Center, are flooding from storm surges and heavy rains and high winds.