As Idalia closes in, Florida ramps up efforts to protect residents
In the hours before Hurricane Idalia is expected to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend as a major Category 3 storm, the state is ramping up its efforts to protect residents.
Idalia currently is a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and is expected to become a Category 4 over the coming hours. Idalia's center is projected to reach the Big Bend coast on Wednesday morning.
"We are gonna be faced with a major hurricane hitting the state of Florida within the next 24 to 36 hours. So be ready for that," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.
A hurricane warning is currently in effect between Sarasota County up into Franklin County in the Panhandle.
DeSantis said there are mandatory evacuation orders for coastal and low lying areas in 22 counties along Florida's west coast and throughout North Florida.
"If this storm hits at high tide, storm surge could reach eight to 12 feet in some areas. That would be life-threatening storm surge," DeSantis said.
To prepare for Idalia's impact, more than 25,000 power lineman are stationed with more on the way, according to the governor.
"You will have, most likely, between 30,000 and 40,000 lineman when the storm hits," DeSantis said. "They will immediately move to commence power restoration efforts."
Around 420,000 gallons of fuel are ready to be deployed.
"The gas stations that will be prioritized will be the ones along the heavy evacuation routes," DeSantis said.
Eight Urban Seach and Rescue teams, more than 580,000 search and rescue personnel, and 5,500 National Guardsmen are activated and ready to respond to storm-related emergencies throughout the state.
42 school districts, 16 state colleges, and seven Florida universities have canceled classes over the next couple days.
"As we get throughout this day, you're gonna start to see rain and wind pick up," DeSantis said. "By the time we get to the end of tonight, you're gonna see some nasty weather. So just be warned about that and do what you need to do right now to be able to keep yourself and your family safe."
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