DeSantis says more than 2 million under evacuation orders
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says more than 2 million residents in the state are under evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian approaches, set to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as soon as Wednesday.
DeSantis said at a press conference on Tuesday that he is urging those under evacuation orders to heed them and move to higher ground.
He said the hurricane, currently a Category 3 storm, was about 200 miles south of Key West, on the southern tip of the state, and expected to exit Cuba soon. He said the storm has maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour.
He said some modeling has begun to show the storm making landfall in Florida south of Tampa Bay, and modeling has consistently moved the storm east instead of hitting northern Florida.
“There’s still uncertainty about with where that exact landfall will be, but just understand the impacts are going to be far, far broader than just where the eye of the storm happens to make landfall,” DeSantis said.
He said some areas will see “catastrophic” flooding and “life-threatening” storm surge, adding that evacuations should not require residents to move to another state but just to safer parts of Florida.
DeSantis said evacuation orders were made for areas that are particularly vulnerable to major storm surge.
“When you have 5 to 10 feet of storm surge, that is not something you want to be a part of,” he said. “Mother Nature is a very fearsome adversary, so please heed those warnings.”
He said shelters are open in all the counties under evacuation orders. He added that people in the southern Gulf Coast of Florida should not move north as it could increase traffic delays, but they should move east to the other side of the state.
DeSantis said emergency shoulder lanes will be opened once sustained speed on highways drops below 40 miles per hour, but traffic is still moving as of Tuesday morning. He said tolls have been suspended in impacted counties to help facilitate people moving where they need to go in those areas.
He said 5,000 members of the Florida National Guard have been activated to assist and 2,000 additional National Guard members from other states are also ready to help. He said the U.S. Coast Guard and search and rescue teams are also standing by to assist.
DeSantis said most counties with evacuation orders have shelters on higher ground that can sustain the winds of a Category 3 hurricane.
“Make sure you’re executing your plan,” he said. “This is imminent.”