On Tuesday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell urged Floridians to pay attention to local authorities and not dismiss Hurricane Ian, which is now a Category 3 storm.
At a White House briefing, Criswell urged residents to “get ready” and to “not underestimate the potential this storm can bring,” adding that she was concerned about “complacency” among them, particularly among those who had never before encountered a storm of this size.
According to Criswell, “We’re talking about impacts in areas of Florida that haven’t experienced a direct impact in almost 100 years.”
Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Ian to a Category 3 storm, meaning it could produce winds of up to 125 mph. According to Criswell, some areas could experience up to 25 inches of rain in addition to a storm surge that could reach 10 feet.
She stated that after a storm of this size, tornadoes are not unusual.
“Please heed the advice of your local officials if they advise people to evacuate. According to Criswell, the choice you make could mean the difference between life and death.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the hurricane had a maximum wind speed of 115 miles per hour as of 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday and was about 200 miles off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. Hurricanes have a rapid rate of strength gain.
Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas in 2017, went from Category 1 to Category 4 the following day. Within 15 hours, Hurricane Maria, which wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico, went from Category 1 to Category 5.
According to Criswell, Hurricane Ian is currently predicted to make landfall “somewhere between Fort Myers and Tampa.”
“The storm is going to slow down to about five miles per hour by the time it reaches the shores of Florida, and this is significant because it means that Floridians will experience the effects of the storm for a very long time,” she continued.
Storm surge is FEMA’s top concern, according to Criswell. She pointed out that it’s among storms’ deadliest features. In Florida, the storm surge from Hurricane Michael in 2018 claimed the lives of five people.
Criswell claimed to have spoken with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday and mentioned that FEMA is coordinating preparation efforts with federal, state, and nonprofit partners. On Tuesday morning, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater mayors were in conversation with President Joe Biden.
In order to be ready for the aftermath, emergency personnel has staged 128,000 gallons of fuel and moved generators close by, according to Criswell. Alabama has prepared nearly 4 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water for evacuees, and the Red Cross has set up 29 shelters with a further 60 shelters available.