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White House, FEMA urge Florida residents to evacuate if asked


Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico on Sept twenty seventh, 2022.


FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on Tuesday urged Floridians to not underestimate Hurricane Ian and take heed to local officials because the now Category 3 storm approaches the coast.

“Prepare and don’t underestimate the potential this storm can bring,” Criswell said at a White House briefing, adding she has concerns about “complacency” amongst residents, especially those that haven’t experienced a storm of this magnitude before.

“We’re talking about impacts in parts of Florida that hasn’t seen a direct impact in nearly 100 years,” Criswell said.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Ian to a Category 3 storm Tuesday morning, which suggests it could bring winds of as much as 125 miles per hour. Some areas are expected to see as much as 25 inches of rainfall, along with the storm surge, which is projected to top 10 feet, Criswell said.

She warned that tornadoes aren’t unusual after a storm of this magnitude.

“If individuals are told to evacuate by their local officials, please take heed to them. The choice you select to make often is the difference between life and death,” Criswell said.

As of 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the hurricane was about 200 miles off the coast of Sarasota, Florida traveling at 10 miles per hour with maximum wind speeds of 115 miles per hour, in accordance with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricanes can quickly gain strength.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas grew from a Category 1 to Category 4 by the following day. That very same 12 months, Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, went from Category 1 to Category 5 inside 15 hours.

Hurricane Ian is currently expected to make landfall “somewhere between Fort Myers and Tampa,” Criswell said.

“By the point it reaches the shores of Florida, the storm goes to slow all the way down to roughly five miles per hour, and this is important since it implies that Floridians are going to experience the impacts from the storm for a really very long time,” she added.

FEMA’s biggest concern is storm surge, Criswell said. She noted it’s one among the deadliest facets of storms. Five people died because of this of storm surge in Florida in 2018’s Hurricane Michael.

Criswell said she spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, and noted that FEMA is working with federal, state and nonprofits partners to arrange for the storm. President Joe Biden spoke with the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater on Tuesday morning.

Emergency responders have staged 128,000 gallons of fuel and moved generators nearby to arrange for the aftermath, Criswell said. Nearly 4 million meals and three.5 million liters of water are staged in Alabama for evacuees, and the Red Cross has arrange 29 shelters with a further 60 shelters on the ready.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the projected speed of the storm upon its reaching Florida.

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