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UCF PD spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin discusses UCF hurricane preparedness Video by Bernard Wilchusky, Central Florida Future

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AUG. 29 UPDATE: The UCF Police Department tweeted today that due to the storm's downgraded strength, classes and campus operations will not be affected.

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After Tropical Storm Erika hit the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, reportedly killing at least 12 people, UCF officials are determining what precautions to take as the storm targets Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all counties Friday morning and began urging residents to prepare, according to weather.com, as Erika continues its west-northwest trek at 18 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some weakening is expected today as the storm moves over land, but could gain strength again into the weekend.

UCF could cancel classes or close campuses if the conditions are deemed serious enough.

"We're going to be monitoring it through the weekend and making some critical decisions Sunday," Jeffery Morgan, director of the UCF Emergency Operations Center, said in a UCF Today release.

The Orange County Office of Emergency Management advises residents to prepare as the latest projected storm path indicates Orange County may be impacted late Sunday night through Tuesday, according to a release.

"If they say you need to evacuate, you need to evacuate," Scott said at a hurricane briefing. "If you look at the history, a lot of times it's not the storm that causes the problem, it's the aftermath."

The National Hurricane Center reports Erika could gain intensity and turn into a hurricane along Florida's coast early next week.

Morgan said emergency contact lists have been updated with new residents on campus to prepare for shelter, if needed, and other safety measures, according to UCF Today.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, NHC reports the center of Erika is south of the Eastern Dominican Republic with portions of Cuba on tropical storm watch.

While the storm is expected to weaken today, it could gain its strength again as it moves into the weekend, Florida Today reports.

Emergency notifications would be sent out through UCF Alert and would be posted on the UCF home page.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Prepare for a hurricane early by keeping an emergency kit consisting of:

» 1 gallon of water per person for at least three days

» Three-day supply of non-perishable food

» Emergency contact list

» Battery-powered radio

» Flashlight

» Batteries

» Whistle

» First-aid kit

» Important documents (passport, birth certificate, deeds, social security cards)

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Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaGCentralFloridaFuture.com.

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