The White House says the Federal Emergency Management Agency is recalling some furloughed workers to help prepare for Tropical Storm Karen.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Barack Obama is being updated about the storm. He says Obama directed his team to ensure staffing and resources are available to respond to the storm.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been furloughed by to the partial government shutdown. It's unclear how many FEMA workers are being brought back.
Tropical Storm Karen is the first named tropical system to menace the U.S. this year. A hurricane watch is in effect along the Gulf Coast.
Governor Rick Scott said, "Our number one priority is the safety of our citizens. We will not let the government shutdown in Washington in any way hurt our emergency response efforts in Florida. I spoke to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate this evening and got his personal assurance that no federal resource would be denied in response to Tropical Storm Karen, despite the ongoing federal shutdown.
"The National Guard has activated 20 guardsmen who will be directing the pre-positioning of equipment and personnel in order to respond to the storm. As we prepare for the potential impact of Tropical Storm Karen, it is imperative that all Florida residents and visitors be prepared. Those in the path of the storm should follow instructions from local officials to ensure safety."
Earlier Thursday, the State Emergency Operations Center upgraded operations to a Level Two activation and Governor Scott declared a state of emergency in 18 Florida counties to allow for the potential deployment of resources as needs develop. The state of emergency is currently in effect for the following counties:
Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor Counties. Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch for Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf Counties.