While Hernando County has issued its voluntary evacuation order for Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided its list of preparations that Floridians can make before Hurricane Ian makes landfall later this week.
Currently, bearing down on Grand Cayman, Ian is expected to near Florida’s Gulf Coast by the middle of this week possibly packing winds as strong as 140 miles per hour, storm surges and major flooding.
“My message to you today is make sure that you do not underestimate the effects of this storm,” said FEMA Administrator Deanna Criswell during a press conference at the National Hurricane Center at Florida International University in Miami on Sept. 26. “I also have concerns that his part of the state has not experienced a hurricane in 100 years.”
As a result, Criswell recommended that Floridians make preparations as soon as possible.
Among them is knowing where they may evacuate if local authorities recommend that they do, what routes they may take to do it and where emergency shelters are located.
“You (also should) know how you’re going to communicate with your family members so they know that you’re safe, bring supplies for your pets as you evacuate, and make sure you are putting together all your important documents (because) you are going to need those after the storm has passed.”
She also advised that Floridians charge their electronics as quickly as possible.
“Getting information and knowing how you’re going to get information is incredibly important,” Criswell said. “Everyone who is in the path or even at the edge of the path should expect power outages
Those who are advised to shelter in place should make sure they have enough supplies including food and water to support them for at least a few days.
Finally, Criswell advised that those new to Florida pay attention to the advice of local officials ahead, during and after the storm.
“I worry about individuals who have never experienced a hurricane and we want to make sure that they are heeding the advice of their local officials,” she said.
Criswell’s recommendations came one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties across Florida.
“I would say to Floridians even if you are not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm – there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Tallahassee on Sunday, Set. 25. “You’re gonna have wind, you’re gonna have water, there could be flooding on the east coast of Florida so just prepare for that.”
In advance of the storm, DeSantis waived weight restrictions for commercial trucks, and has authorized emergency refills of prescriptions for 30 days.
“We want to make sure that adequate resources are able to be brought into the state of Florida,” he said. “Also the Florida Department of Emergency Management is working with all the fuel and all the utility partners throughout the state of Florida (because) once this storm hits here there is going to be a strong effort to get the power back on for as many people as quickly as possible.”
DeSantis also activated 25 members of the Florida National Guard and promised to authorize further deployments if necessary.
“The last thing we want to see is to see it bear right really quickly and have folks who are not prepared,” DeSantis said. “It’s better to be prepared and then not have to use those preparations, than the opposite.
Finally, Criswell said it is key for neighbors before, during and after the storm has passed.
“Help your neighbors – it’s incredibly important especially if you know of somebody who has never experienced a storm like this before,” she said. “Help them understand what they need to do, check in with neighbors and help those who might need some special assistance after the storm passes.”