Hurricane Idalia has made landfall in Florida’s remote Big Bend region bringing winds of 110mph and potentially life-threatening conditions. Millions of residents are likely to lose electrical power for an extended period of time.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says 16ft storm surges are expected in some areas as fierce winds push seawater inland along the marshy coastline.
Some areas of the state are already seeing flooding, with knee-deep water covering roads and inundating towns
Up to 40,000 emergency workers are ready to help restore power in the wake of the storm, DeSantis says, as he warns people to be careful of downed power lines. Typically residents lose domestic electrical power for days or even weeks after hurricanes in Florida.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) has said it stands ready to support Americans in the path of Hurricane Idalia, but residents must “be vigilant and heed the warnings of local officials”.
“I know that the people of Florida are no stranger to storms and I encourage all Floridians to take this storm seriously,” Fema administrator Deanne Criswell said at the White House’s daily press briefing on Tuesday.
She said Idalia’s expected storm surge poses the highest risk for loss of life, particularly in the shallow, low-lying parts of Florida’s western or gulf coast.
Criswell said she had briefed President Joe Biden on the hurricane’s projected trajectory and impacts, as well as the governors of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
The agency has already pre-deployed hundreds of its personnel, including urban search and rescue teams, and resources to the region.
Sources: BBC, CNN, NPR, news agencies.