Evacuation orders issued for residents in Florida counties threatened by Hurricane Ian

The first major storm of the year to hit the United States appears to be Hurricane Ian, which is on a path to make landfall in central Florida by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Massive preparations have been made in advance of the storm’s arrival, including mandatory evacuation orders for some residents who live within Ian’s anticipated path, the Washington Examiner reported.

The orders to evacuate appear to only be mandatory for hospitals and residential healthcare facilities and those who live in mobile homes, at least thus far, but evacuation is nonetheless still highly encouraged for all others in the storm’s projected track.

Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders for certain counties

According to CBS News, Hurricane Ian has reached Category 3 status and is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Florida Gulf coast to the south of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

As such, both mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued as of now for the following eight counties in the Sunshine State: Charlotte, Hillsborough, Levy, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota.

“It’s important to say that Tampa Bay region, you are not out of the woods yet. There is still going to be a storm surge event in the Tampa Bay region,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said during a press conference on Tuesday. “You need to continue to heed the warnings that are in place for Pinellas, Tampa, Manatee, Hillsborough. Do not return yet if you have evacuated.”

Warnings issued by National Hurricane Center

In its latest update on Hurricane Ian, the National Hurricane Center urged that “Residents in the Hurricane and Storm Surge Warning areas should listen to advice given by local officials and follow any evacuation orders for your area.”

It also shared three “key messages” about what Floridians could expect once the powerful storm eventually arrived, including the likelihood of a “life-threatening storm surge” along the state’s west coast, “Hurricane-force winds” in the southwest and west-central portions of the state that could cause “devastating” damage, ” and “heavy rainfall” across much of the Peninsula that could cause “considerable” flash flooding in some areas.

Preparedness update from DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who already declared a state of emergency for the entire state, has been overseeing and providing updates about the state’s preparations in advance of the storm from the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

His latest update noted that the evacuation orders for the eight named counties were especially applicable to those in “select areas, including coastal communities, mobile homes, and low-lying areas in several counties,” though, again, it was strongly advised that all residents in the specific counties heed the warning to evacuate to safer locations for the time being.

That update also provided a listing of the various watches and warnings in effect for hurricane-force and tropical-force winds and expected storm surge, along with a summary of the many state-level “preparation and response efforts” that were currently underway or already in place.

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