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Gov. Ron DeSantis told Floridians in the path of Hurricane Ian that the time has passed to evacuate and residents should now “hunker down.”
Ian is expected to make landfall in Charlotte County Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, with the highest risk areas ranging from Collier County to Sarasota County.
“If you are in any of those counties, it’s no longer possible to safely evacuate. It’s time to hunker down and prepare for this storm,” he urged.
“If you are on the roads, get to a safe place as soon as possible,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis noted that local bridges, including Tampa’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge, are closed and that there are more than 200 shelters open in just the southwestern region of the state.
The governor additionally warned the public not to leave their houses in the “eye of the storm” – a comparatively calm bubble in the center of a hurricane. DeSantis warned that these moments of peace can quickly and lethally escalate back to severe hurricane winds.
Residents who are hunkering down should wait to go outside until the storm has passed completely and be cautious afterward.
The governor said Ian could make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane.
“This is a major, major storm,” he stated, adding that the strengthening of the storm overnight has been “significant.”
DeSantis said Florida Department of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie had requested additional airlift hoists and highwater vehicles from the Department of Defense in coordination with FEMA and that the Department of Transportation also has 1,200 personnel on standby to perform cut and toss operations.
The governor said 26 states have sent support ahead of the storm.
“This is going to be a nasty, nasty day, two days […] So, this is going to be a rough stretch,” DeSantis warned.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.