MIAMI (WSVN) - Governor Rick Scott has suspended tolls in all areas of the state affected by Hurricane Matthew, including the entire Florida Turnpike, Alligator Alley, Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.
The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority also announced it will suspend tolls at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The authority operates SR 836/Dolphin Expressway, SR 874/Don Shula Expressway, SR 924/Gratigny Parkway, SR 112/Airport Expressway and SR 878/Snapper Creek Expressway.
The order comes after Scott suspended tolls in all counties with evacuations.
“Based on the most recent forecast I received from the National Hurricane Center, the eye of Hurricane Matthew is going to be much closer to Florida. There are hurricane watches and warnings along Florida’s entire east coast and we now have Tropical Storm warnings on Florida’s Gulf Coast. This storm is serious and protecting life remains our number one priority,” Scott said in a press release.
Brevard County is currently under a mandatory evacuation.
There is a voluntary evacuation for residents in low-lying areas and mobile homes in Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval, Flagler and St. Lucie Counties.
Scott also activated the National Guard on Monday and directed members to be stationed in North, Central and South Florida so they can be mobilized immediately
“Evacuations have started to be ordered this morning and I expect more counties to order evacuations soon. This is a dangerous storm and it is never too early to evacuate. If you live in a low lying area, on a barrier island, or in an area prone to flooding, you need to make plans to leave now,” Scott said.
“Protecting life and moving people to safety remains our top priority and today I directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls as needed to keep traffic flowing. If there is an evacuation order in a county, all tolls will be suspended in that county,” he added.
Scott activated 1,500 National Guard members across Florida. They are currently stationed in North, Central and South Florida so they can be mobilized immediately. Over 6,000 National Guard members are also ready to be activated if needed.
“I also just directed the Florida National Guard to activate an additional 1,000 members to support Hurricane Matthew response. 1,500 members of the National Guard have now been activated. Florida has more than 5,000 National Guard members ready to be deployed if needed. I am also directing the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend all tolls in the affected areas of the state to keep traffic flowing as residents continue to evacuate,” Scott said.
Shelters have also opened for special needs populations, pets and general populations.
According to a news release, the American Red Cross will also be opening 97 shelters across the state over the next two days.
“There is absolutely no reason not to evacuate and there is shelter available for anyone in our state,” Scott said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Broward County, and a tropical storm warning is now in effect for Miami-Dade south to the Seven Mile Bridge.
As of the 2 p.m., Matthew remains a Category 3 hurricane located at 22.1°N 75.3°W. The hurricane is moving northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
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