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MIAMI(CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama has declared an emergency exists in Florida as the monster Hurricane Matthew moves closer to the state’s east coast.

The declaration signed Thursday afternoon authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts meant to save lives, property and protect public health and safety.

The counties under this declaration include: Baker, Brevard, Broward, Citrus, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Volusia.

FEMA is now authorized to identify and provide equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of Hurricane Matthew on the state.

Following the signing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had some words for Floridians.

“We strongly encourage people who live in the areas that are likely to be affected to heed the warnings and instructions of local officials including evacuation orders,” said Earnest. “We want people to be prepared.”

The move comes after Florida Governor Rick Scott requested federal assistance for the 26 counties Wednesday evening.


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