More than half of Florida’s National Guard has been activated ahead of Hurricane Matthew.

Gov. Rick Scott announced 3,500 members of the National Guard have been activated, more than half of the available troops. The governor said he will continue to activate members to help with evacuations, and prepare for search and rescue missions.

“Protecting lives remains our No. 1 priority and that is why I have now activated over half of the National Guard who will play a big role in important life-saving missions,” said Scott in a statement. “I have directed them to focus on prepositioning resources, assist with helping people evacuate safely and our sheltering operations. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, they will be involved in recovery efforts including search and rescue missions.”

Scott said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also has high-water vehicles positioned across the state to help with rescue efforts.

The announcement came as President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response to the storm.

Scott said while the federal government approved his request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for food, water, and tarps, he also is asking for “additional generators and pumps to help with power outages and flooding once the storm hits.”

“Following the most recent weather briefing from the National Hurricane Center, we can expect to have a lot of flooding, especially in Northeast Florida, and we will need additional pumping equipment from the federal government,” said Scott.

According to Scott’s schedule, he spoke to the president at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

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