Tallahassee, Fla. -- Four Florida counties received federal emergency declarations this week as the result of flooding rains and severe weather damage caused by Tropical Storm Fay. Now, the Gulf Coast is bracing for the impact of Tropical Storm Gustav, which could gain hurricane strength as is passes over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters this weekend.
-- Four Florida counties received federal emergency declarations this week as the result of flooding rains and severe weather damage caused by Tropical Storm Fay. Now, the Gulf Coast is bracing for the impact of Tropical Storm Gustav, which could gain hurricane strength as is passes over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters this weekend.
The Florida Veterinary Medical Association did not have any rescue information related to the storms to report, referring inquiries to the state veterinarian, who could not be reached by press time. However, no emergency veterinary rescue teams were dispatched and no large-scale animal evacuations had been requested by late in the week, according to Sarah Carey, the school's director of public relations.
Heavy flooding was sustained in Brevard, Monroe, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties, according to state reports. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) already has begun damage assessments at homes and businesses in those counties -- the first step in gaining public emergency assistance funds for those home and business owners adversely affected by Fay.
Residents are being cautioned clear standing water and take precautions against mosquitoes brought on by the flooding and the diseases they carry, and have been issued food safety tips and a water boil alert. A list of pet-friendly shelters also is available through the state, online at www.FloridaPets.net.
State wildlife officials also have issued an advisory, telling residents not to attempt to rescue any wildlife, as they have adapted to Florida's extreme weather and could turn aggressive in a state of fright.
Eyes were turning back to the south as the new weekend approaches, though, less than a week after Fay stuck Florida with heavy storms last weekend.
Tropical Storm Gustav already has achieved hurricane strength, but weakened Aug. 27 as it approached Haiti. Gustav soaked Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean Aug. 28, but the course it would take and how much strength it would gain as it moves north is uncertain, according to the State of Florida Emergency Response Team (FERT) on Aug. 28. The storm could become a hurricane by nightfall, according to the FERT, and was expected to enter the Gulf by the weekend.
Many flooded areas had receded a bit by Thursday, but state officials are cautioning residents to watch for new flooding and high temperatures as the storm moves closer.
In addition to warnings in Florida, Louisiana officials also have begun emergency preparations and could evacuate certain areas, hit just a few years ago by Hurrican Katrina, should Gustav attain hurricane status within 60 hours of the coast.