Hurricane Idalia has made landfall on Florida’s west coast as a dangerous Category 3 storm. More than 200,000 customers were without power, trees were snapped by strong winds, and water poured onto roads and streets.
Storm surge could rise as high as 15 feet in some places.
Overnight, people in at least 30 Florida counties were placed under evacuation orders, with as many as 300,000 residents vacating their homes. Some residents boarded up windows and filled sandbags.
Steinhatchee resident Ene Hoffman said, “My son’s a law enforcement officer. They have ordered a lot of body bags. They’re expecting some fatalities.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis warned residents in coastal communities who stayed that they would be on their own during the storm. “If you do choose to stay in one of the evacuation zones, first responders will not be able to get to you until after the storm has past,” DeSantis said.
As Hurricane Idalia gained strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, authorities warned of a “catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds” as the storm moved ashore.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell was also urging families to follow the evacuation orders and get out while there was still time.
“If you are in a storm surge warning area, it could mean just traveling 10 or 20 miles to get out of the most significant impact areas,” Criswell said.
Tampa Electric has secured tens of thousands of workers from more than 20 states as far away as Maine to help restore power after the storm.
And 5,500 National Guardsmen are also on high alert.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued for South Carolina and Tropical Storm Warnings stretch from Florida up to the North Carolina-Virginia border.
The Florida capital of Tallahassee is facing the rare threat of hurricane conditions.
“This is going to be something that will leave significant impacts and particularly in this part of the state,” DeSantis said.
Idalia is forecast to cross the Florida peninsula and then drench southern Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday. Both Georgia and South Carolina have announced states of emergency.
CBN’s Operation Blessing has been preparing for disaster relief, working to have supplies ready to help those in need in the region.