Preparing Florida for what Gov. Ron DeSantis has called a “major” hurricane, officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for various counties on Monday.
According to reports, Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, is projected to be one of the areas worst hit by Hurricane Ian, expecting flash floods and heavy rainfall. The hurricane had reached 100-mph winds by 5 pm Monday afternoon as Cuba braced for landfall and the Florida Keys started to experience rainfall and storms from Ian’s most outer bands, according to the National Weather Service.
Cities including Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville are also said to be making preparations for the hurricane – with up to 15m residents in Florida alone within its projected pathway.
Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise recommended evacuees seek shelter at least 20 miles inland rather than rely on limited and often crowded shelter space. “This is a really, really big hurricane,” DeSantis said at a Monday morning briefing. He predicted heavy flooding and said additional medical personnel, ambulances, generators, and water pumps have been deployed to Tampa, which was bracing for a surge of up to eight feet in ocean water and between 10 and 15 inches of rain, which could be disastrous for coastal communities.
DeSantis said 5,000 Florida National Guard members have been activated, along with 2,000 additional troops from nearby states including Georgia and Tennessee. All major airlines were preparing for flight cancellations to the region and both Orlando and Tampa International Airports were making preparations ahead of the hurricane hitting the state.