Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Florida on Saturday as tropical storm Ian gathers forces over the Caribbean and is expected to bring heavy rain and gale force winds early next week.
DeSantis initially issued the emergency order for 24 counties on Friday, but has expanded the warning across the state, encouraging local residents and governments to prepare for a storm that could hit large swaths of Florida.
“This storm has the potential to become a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to prepare,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all local governments to monitor the potential impacts of this storm.”
The governor’s statement releases emergency protection funds and activates members of the Florida National Guard. His order points out that there is a risk of storm surges, floods, dangerous winds and other weather conditions for the entire state.
In a press conference offered this Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava assured that it was time to make preparations.
“There is no reason to panic, but we want everyone to be prepared,” Levine-Cava said. “Now is the time to make sure we have a hurricane plan.”
For his part, the mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suárez, also spoke about the preparation in a briefing he held this Friday afternoon.
“As Miamiani, we know that being prepared is essential,” Suarez said. “We want you to make sure you check your hurricane supplies.”
The Florida Division of Emergency Management said they were monitoring the system and also urged residents to prepare.
“The Division is working closely with our federal, state and local partners to ensure we are ready to provide assistance to affected areas,” said Kevin Guthrie, Division Director of Emergency Management. “It is imperative that Floridians remain alert and prepared – a storm is enough to cause costly or irreversible damage to your home or business.”
The National Hurricane Center said Ian is expected to strengthen rapidly over the next few days before moving to western Cuba and landing in Florida in the middle of next week as a major hurricane.
John Cangialosi, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said it is currently unclear where Ian will hit hardest in Florida and said residents should start preparing for the storm, including gathering supplies for potential power outages.
“Too early to tell if it’s going to be a Southeast Florida issue or a central Florida issue or just statewide,” he said. “So, at this point, the correct message for those living in Florida is to look at the forecast and prepare for the potential impact of this tropical system.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Kelly Godsey said the storm could reach the Gulf of Mexico late Monday or early Tuesday.
“It’s a great time to take advantage of the calm weather that’s happening now, before tropical systems hit, to make sure you have supplies for you and your family,” Godsey said. “Know what you will do if the storm approaches your area.”
Officials from the South Florida region of the American Red Cross said they are also preparing for the impacts.
“Our teams are coordinating with partners, reviewing our response plans, mobilizing volunteers and preparing supplies to be ready to provide help as needed,” said Josett Valdez, executive director of the South Florida Red Cross. “We urge our neighbors to closely monitor the storm and take the time to prepare.”
To find local resources to help you and your family prepare for this storm, you can visit floridadisaster.org/planprepare.