Governor Ron DeSantis told people living near the coasts, on islands that protect against waves, and in mobile homes to follow evacuation orders. He said there’s still time to move to safer areas inland.
DeSantis gave this information from Lake City while Hurricane Idalia got stronger farther south. The hurricane had already passed Cuba and was moving across the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm will probably move westward and get stronger. DeSantis said the new predictions from the National Hurricane Center will show that. The next update from them will be at 5 p.m.
DeSantis said, “You don’t need to drive far away, just get to higher ground or a sturdy building.”
He also said that the flooding caused by the storm’s powerful waves will likely be worse along the Big Bend coast. They’re expecting the waves to reach 10 to 15 feet in the worst spots, between Levy and Jefferson counties.
People living by the coast were already told to leave, but DeSantis mentioned that areas farther from the coast will also get damaged. This could mean losing electricity and roads getting blocked. Alachua County, for example, told people who live in mobile homes or areas that usually flood to leave for safety.
Alachua County set up three emergency shelters: one in Newberry and two in Gainesville. Putnam County also made a shelter near Hawthorne available.
DeSantis warned that there will probably be power outages. He compared the impact to another hurricane from the previous year. Hurricane Ian hit a place with more people and fewer trees to damage power lines and roads. The Big Bend area has fewer people and more trees.
He said that around 40,000 workers who fix power lines will be ready by the end of Tuesday. They’ve already done 450 preparation missions, set up 250 Starlink devices, and activated all the Florida Urban Search and Rescue teams.
The most important tools might be heavy machines to clear the roads. DeSantis said they have over 650 machines and trucks ready to remove fallen trees and debris from roads, along with more than 1 million gallons of fuel.
DeSantis said, “This storm will affect areas away from the coast, especially in northern Florida. The exact impact will depend on where the storm goes.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the governor extended the emergency declaration to 49 counties, including Brevard, Orange, and Osceola counties.
Gainesville is now just to the south of where the storm is predicted to go, but the cities of Alachua, High Springs, and Newberry are still in the uncertain zone. Alachua County mentioned that 66% of the county could experience winds of up to 110 miles per hour.