On Saturday, as Tropical Storm Ian grew stronger over the Caribbean and was expected to make its way toward Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for the whole state. On Friday, DeSantis had initially announced the emergency declaration for twenty counties. But he increased the scope of the alert, advising citizens to make preparations for a hurricane that may batter wide portions of Florida.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and the Department of Homeland Security have been permitted to coordinate disaster relief efforts and offer help to preserve lives and property after President Joe Biden also declared an emergency for the state. Due to the storm, the president’s planned trip to Florida on September 27 was postponed.
According to the National Hurricane Center, by the middle of next week, Ian was expected to intensify before crossing over western Cuba and heading toward the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle. The organization warned locals to follow updates on the storm’s changing direction and said Floridians should have hurricane strategies in place.
At 5 a.m. on Sunday, the center revised its alert, noting that the tropical storm was expected to start “rapidly strengthening later today” and that the “risk of substantial wind and storm surge impacts for western Cuba” was rising.
Ian was predicted to intensify into a hurricane on Sunday and a major hurricane by Monday night. On Sunday morning, the storm whirled about 345 miles (555 kilometers) southeast of Grand Cayman, in the Cayman Islands, with top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph).
For the island, a hurricane warning is still in effect, and hurricane watches have been issued for western Cuba. Senior hurricane expert John Cangialosi of the Miami-based center said it’s still unclear exactly where Ian will impact Florida the hardest. He advised citizens of the state to start making plans for the storm, including stocking up on supplies in case there are any power outages.
“Too soon to say if it’s going to be a southeast Florida problem or a central Florida problem or just the entire state,” he said. “So at this point, the right message for those living in Florida is that you have to watch forecasts and get ready and prepare yourself for potential impact from this tropical system.”
When a Home Depot in Pinellas Park, close to Tampa, opened at 6 a.m., there was a queue already formed, according to the Tampa Bay Times. By early afternoon, according to manager Wendy Macrini, the store had run out of generators after selling 600 cases of water.
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Additionally, some were purchasing plywood to cover their windows because, in the words of Pinellas Park resident Matt Beaver, “it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
According to the governor’s office, the emergency protective funds are released and members of the Florida National Guard are activated. He emphasizes in his directive that the state is at risk for storm surges, flooding, hazardous winds, and other weather conditions.
In another area, the Atlantic Canada region’s Nova Scotia experienced the early Saturday morning landfall of the potent post-tropical storm Fiona. Over 500,000 people were without power in two Canadian provinces during the height of the storm, which also tore off roofs from other homes and washed homes into the sea.
Late Friday, Fiona had changed from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm, but it continued to produce hurricane-force gusts, torrential rain, and enormous waves. No confirmed deaths or injuries have occurred.