Residents in at least 22 of Florida’s 67 counties are under evacuation orders as the state braces for Tropical Storm Idalia to make landfall. The storm is likely to curve inwards and make landfall somewhere on the west coast of Florida and then cross the state and enter the Atlantic Ocean, according to forecast predictions.
“This is a major hurricane,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a Tuesday morning news conferences.
He added there would be “a lot of debris” and “a lot of power lines that are going to be down”.
Although most power lines in new housing developments are now buried underground, there are still many overhead electrical cables in older parts of Florida, and when trees are brough down by high winds, a great deal of damage is possible, that can leave residents without electrical power for weeks.
The storm surge could reach as high as 12 feet (3.5m) in some places, and DeSantis reiterated that locals should pack up and leave while they have the chance if they live in low-lying areas close to the shore.
“If you’re there in that storm surge, you’re putting your life in jeopardy,” he said.
Those under evacuation orders do not have to leave the state, but could ”go to a shelter in a different part of your county, go to a friend’s house in an area that is not going to be susceptible to the storm surge, or a hotel”, DeSantis pointed out.
Tolls on roads in affected counties have been waived to help fleeing residents.
More than 5,000 National Guard members, as well as thousands of search and rescue personnel and power repairmen, are already on standby.
Sources: BBC, National Hurricane Center.