Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis warned Floridians living in the path of Hurricane Idalia that they should consider evacuating. This is especially true for those who are vulnerable to storm surges.
The National Hurricane Center has advised that the storm surge in some areas could reach 8-12 feet if the storm strikes at high tide. This would be a potentially life-threatening situation, DeSantis stated at a press conference held Tuesday morning at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEC), Tallahassee.
He said, “You run away from the water and hide from the winds; if there is a storm surge at that height, your life will be in danger.”
“You will start certainly seeing effects of this in different parts of the state later on today,” he said. “You still have time this morning to be able to make your final preparations.”
DeSantis stated that he had prepared equipment and personnel for the storm. This included mobilizing 5,500 National Guardsmen.
He said that eight urban search teams were activated, and there are over 580 people ready to help in search and recovery. “We have delivered 431 pallets of water, 303 pallets of MREs, and over 1,200 tarps to communities that may be impacted.” MREs are military-ready-to-eat meals.
The Governor said that the state has more than 20 shelters and an additional 20 special needs shelters are in the process of opening all over the State.
The governor halted his presidential campaign, canceling his two South Carolina stops and sending Sunshine State first lady Casey DeSantis to act as his surrogate.
DeSantis paused his campaign during the 2022 election to oversee the response and recovery efforts of the state following the hurricanes Ian and Nicole in September.
This was an example of a good move.
The Governor said that he would stay in the state until the storm passed, just as he had done 11 months earlier.
“This is not different. You remember Ian. We were in the middle of a Governor campaign. “I had a lot of things planned, not only in Florida but all over the country,” said he.
He said, “We did different things and you do whatever you need to, so that’s exactly what we are doing. It’s no different from what we did when Hurricane Ian hit.”
The National Weather Service classified the storm as a hurricane around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, when it was passing Cuba and heading toward Florida’s Big Bend in the northeast corner of the Gulf of Mexico. Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and includes the campuses of Florida State University and Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University.
The hurricane made landfall in northwest Florida, five years after the Florida Panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael. It is about 100 miles west of Apalachee Bay and the so-called Big Bend.
DeSantis stated “This is going to be an extremely powerful hurricane, probably a Category 3 hurricane. We haven’t had a hurricane in this area in a very long time.”
He said, “I don’t think this path has been seen before. You have to go all the way back to the 1800s to see it.”
DeSantis stated, “Obviously, there will still be an impact in Tampa Bay but with every step west, the impact on Tampa is a little lower.”
The governor cited several models, such as those of the National Hurricane Center. However, he was not confident in their ability to predict the storm’s path.
He said that some of the models needed to be extended even further west, into Tallahassee. He said that “NHC was not willing to go this far and some of the models were very bad.”
“There are some models that say it may go even further west, so places like Tallahassee where we are today, certainly you could end up having it hit Tallahassee directly.”