Florida is bracing for what Governor Ron DeSantis is warning could be “catastrophic” and “life-threatening” flooding Tuesday as Hurricane Ian bears down on the state.
The story had strengthened into a mammoth Category 3 hurricane and reportedly is growing as it heads toward Tampa.
Here’s what DeSantis said on Tuesday as he warned residents that the impact of Ian was imminent.
“What we have here is really historic storm surge and flooding potential. In some areas, there will be catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surges.”
Tampa and St. Petersburg were expected to face the storm head-on, but weather experts say it could make a direct hit south of that area. Storm surges of 9 and 10 feet are expected in the Tampa Bay Area. This would be the first hurricane to have the Tampa area in its crosshairs in over a century.
The National Hurricane Center said the winds from Ian could affect 15 million people with the hurricane force gusts.
Loss of electricity and flooding is a significant concern, and 37 schools in Florida already have closed schools for the week, with that number expected to get much bigger. The same storm dumped 16 inches of rain on Cuba Tuesday morning.
DeSantis has ordered a statewide emergency, and 5,000 National Guard members have been called up.
Here’s more from DeSantis.
“Mother Nature is a very fearsome adversary. So please heed those warnings. Make sure you are executing your plan. This is imminent; I would just tell all Floridians who are in this path that there will be interruptions in things like power. There’s going to be interruptions in fuel. There may be interruptions in communications.”
Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations at 5 p.m. today.
A curfew will be implemented in Tampa as well, according to Mayor Jane Castor, and emergency responses will stop when wind gusts hit 40 mph in order for first responders to shelter in place.