More than two million residents are under evacuation orders and on Tuesday authorities began moving residents of more than 90 nursing homes to safe areas.
At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the hurricane was located about 80 miles southwest of Charlotte County and was “knocking the door” of being a Category 5 storm, DeSantis said.
With the storm battering Florida, DeSantis and other officials say they are preparing for extensive efforts to restore power after Ian’s strikes. The state is also preparing for search and rescue operations that may arise due to flooding. More than 5,000 National Guard soldiers are activated and 30,000 utility workers are on standby to help restore power to residents. DeSantis said 26 states are providing assistance.
“This is a major, major storm,” he said. “It will have major, major impacts.”
The National Hurricane Center warned Wednesday that Hurricane Ian is unleashing “destructive” waves off the Florida coast, clearing 12 to 16 feet above ground from Englewood to Bonita Beach. The NHS predicts “widespread, life-threatening and catastrophic” flooding across central Florida and “considerable” flooding elsewhere in the state.
“Preparations to protect life and property must be completed urgently,” the NHC said Wednesday morning.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, speaking on MSNBC on Wednesday, also warned residents in evacuation zones to stay put if they haven’t left their homes. Criswell stressed that they have “moved the right staff and resources in place to ensure that we can respond immediately, especially to these life-saving efforts.”
DeSantis and President Joe Biden regularly trade barbs on a host of issues, including immigration and Covid warrants, but appear to be working together during this natural disaster. Biden spoke Tuesday night with DeSantis and the two men are “committed to continuing close coordination,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. tweeted.
The state should also expect tornado warnings, which have already been felt in South Florida.
DeSantis said Wednesday that while not everyone followed evacuation orders, most people heeded the warnings and took the threat seriously.
“There’s going to be a lot of fallout to get people back on their feet,” DeSantis said. “Right now it’s a matter of security.”