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Storm Center | By Jeff George | Published August 28, 2023
The National Hurricane Center is now forecasting Idalia to be a major category 3 hurricane at landfall early Wednesday. The most likely area for landfall is from Tallahassee to Sarasota, but to be safe, the entire Gulf Coast needs to prepare for high impacts. Hurricane Watches and Tropical Storm Watches are posted and will likely be upgraded to warnings later today.
Residents are encouraged to have hurricane preparations finished today as tropical storm conditions are expected to start hitting the Gulf Coast on Tuesday. Please keep in mind impacts will be felt well outside the cone and that’s why everyone needs to keep prepping. For more on building a disaster plan and preparing emergency kits, go to: https://www.floridadisaster.org/planprepare/
If Idalia makes landfall as a category 3 hurricane as expected, sustained winds of 111-129 mph are likely near the center of circulation along the immediate coastal areas. Idalia is expected to remain a category 1 or 2 as it tracks across the state Wednesday. That means winds will range from 74 mph to possibly over 100 mph closest to the eyewall. Winds will decrease farther from the center, but strong gusts will likely cause power outages along with tree and structural damage. Isolated tornadoes are also possible in any of the outer rain bands across the state.
Life-threatening storm surge will be one of the greatest impacts and watches are posted from the Panhandle to the south Peninsula. Across this area, inundations will average 3-7 feet to include Tampa/St. Pete. But the Big Bend Coast is much more susceptible and will need to plan for inundations possibly up to 10 feet.
Based on Idalia’s current track, areas closest to the path can expect 3-7” of rain on average, and locally up to 10 or more inches. Areas well inland across the Panhandle and Peninsula could possibly receive 2-5” of rain with locally higher amounts.
It’s important to remember that most tropical cyclone-related fatalities are due to the high waters caused by flooding and storm surge. Consider the following advice: hide from the wind, run from the water. Evacuation orders are expected along the Gulf Coast today and locals are urged to listen to all orders from county officials. As timing would have it, a supermoon Tuesday into Wednesday may increase the coastal flooding and storm surge threats.
Residents are highly encouraged to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and check the forecast at least twice a day. Those who are well-prepared have peace of mind and little reason to panic. Download the Florida Storms app to keep you safe and informed at all times.
Here’s information provided by local cities and counties about school closures, sandbags, etc.
Hillsborough County evacuations
Hillsborough County Issues Mandatory Evacuation for Zone A, Opens Shelters, and Will Hold News Conference at 2 p.m. Today Tropical Storm Idalia Update No. 2
Hillsborough County, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2023) – Hillsborough County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for Evacuation Zone A, as well as those in mobile and manufactured homes and residents in low-lying areas prone to flooding, beginning at 2 p.m. today, Monday, Aug. 28.
Review the evacuation order for Evacuation Zone A.
Visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe for details about Hillsborough County’s evacuation zones and additional storm preparation information.
The County will open two shelters at 2 p.m. today, Monday, Aug. 28. Residents are urged to use shelters as a last resort and contact friends and family as a first option.
General Population Shelter opening at 2 p.m. today:
Hillsborough Community College at The Regent, 6437 Watson Rd., Riverview, FL
Special Needs Shelter opening at 2 p.m. today:
Erwin Technical, 2010 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, FL 33610 (Pet-friendly)
The County will open eight additional shelters at 4 p.m. today, Monday, Aug.
- Please don’t arrive before 4 p.m. to these shelters. They are scheduled to open at 4 p.m.
General Population Shelters opening at 4 p.m. today:
- Lockhart Elementary Magnet School, 3719 N. 17th St., Tampa, FL 33610
- Middelton High School, 4801 N. 22nd St., Tampa, FL 33610 (Pet-friendly)
- Newsome High School, 16550 Fishhawk Blvd., Lithia, FL 33547
- Pizzo Elementary, 11701 USF Bull Run, Tampa, FL 33620
- Reddick Elementary, 325 West Lake Dr., Wimauma, FL 33598
- Shields Middle School, 15732 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin, FL 33573 (Pet-friendly)
- Steinbrenner High School, 5575 W. Lutz Lake Fern Rd., Lutz, FL 33558
- Sgt. Paul R. Smith Middle School, 14303 Citrus Pointe Dr., Tampa, FL 33625
The special needs shelters are only for residents with medical issues that require electricity assistance or who have cognitive issues that would not be supported in a general population shelter.
Residents bringing pets to the pet-friendly shelters need to bring a sturdy carrier for each pet that allows room for the pet to stand up and move around, as well as a collar with a leash and supplies for each pet to last seven days.
More information on how residents can prepare their pets can be found here.
Residents are urged not to evacuate to hospitals, as they are not shelters.
Hillsborough County Emergency Officials to Hold News Conference at 2 p.m. Today
Hillsborough County emergency officials will host a news conference at 2 p.m.
today, Monday, Aug. 28, at the Hillsborough County Public Safety Operations Complex, 9450 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa, FL 33619, in anticipation of Tropical Storm Idalia.
There will be a briefing from County Administrator Bonnie Wise, Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management Director Timothy Dudley, and other officials. The public is invited to watch the briefing via Hillsborough County’s YouTube Channelor Facebook page.
Hillsborough County will continue making sandbags available at four locations.
On Monday, Aug. 28, the below four sandbag locations are open until 7 p.m. and will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Sandbags are available at the following locations:
- Edward Medard Conservation Park, 6140 Turkey Creek Rd., Plant City, FL 33567
- E.G. Simmons Conservation Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin, FL 33570
- Ed Radice Sports Complex, 14720 Ed Radice Dr., Tampa, FL 33626
- Larry Sanders Sports Complex, 5855 S. 78th St., Tampa, FL 33619
Hillsborough County residents are eligible for a maximum of 10 sandbags per family. Residents must show ID verifying they live in the County; a driver’s license or utility bill will serve as proper identification.
Trash, Yard Waste, and Recycling Collections Trash, recycling, and yard waste collections will continue as normal on Tuesday, Aug. 29. However, there will be no trash, recycling, or yard waste collections on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Residents who do not receive garbage collection on Wednesday due to the storm will receive garbage collection on Saturday as part of their next normal collection service. All Solid Waste facilities will also be closed on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on any other potential emergency in the county, visitHCFLGov.net/StaySafeand sign up for theHCFL Alertsystem. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook; X, formerly known as Twitter; and Nextdoor for updates.
Residents without digital access are encouraged to call 833-HC STORM or 833-427-8676, the County’s storm information line, or visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe.
Pinellas County evacuations
Pinellas County orders mandatory evacuations of Zone A and mobile home residents
Anticipating possible life-threatening storm surge as Tropical Storm Idalia is forecast to become a major hurricane, Pinellas County has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Zone A, including all mobile homes, effective tonight, Monday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m.
The evacuation order also covers residential healthcare facilities, which will begin evacuating at 1 p.m. today.
Pinellas County recommends that anyone evacuating go to a zone higher than Zone B in case conditions worsen.
The County will open a special needs shelter at 7 p.m. at John Hopkins Middle School, 701 16th Street S., St. Petersburg, for anyone who can arrange their own transport, and an additional 10 shelters at 7 a.m., Tuesday. Some of the shelters will be pet friendly. The latest shelter information is available at https:// disaster.pinellas.gov.
Special needs transportation will begin Tuesday morning. County staff will contact special needs residents who have pre-registered to arrange transportation to the nearest shelter. If you need help with transportation or have other special medical needs, you can register now by calling the County Information Center (727) 464-4333.
Evacuees are encouraged to stay with nearby family, friends or at a hotel outside the evacuation zone if possible. Residents evacuating do not need to go hundreds of miles, just out of Zone A and Zone B.
The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners declared a Local State of Emergency Monday morning. The declaration gives County Administrator Barry A.
Burton authority to quickly approve expenditures and issue special orders to ensure public safety. Evacuation orders fall under that authority.
Pinellas County Government will shut down all non-essential functions Tuesday and Wednesday. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) will shut down as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Information about Pinellas County Schools can be found at www.pcsb.org/.
- Pasco County Issues Evacuations for Zones A, B, C
- All special needs and mobile home residents need to evacuate
Pasco County Government will be issuing a mandatory evacuation for certain areas of Pasco County and voluntary evacuations for other areas as Tropical Storm Idalia heads toward the Gulf Coast. Life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds are expected to impact Pasco County later this week.
You MUST evacuate if one or more of the following applies to you:
- You live in Evacuation Zone A
- You live in a manufactured home, mobile home or RV anywhere in Pasco
- You live in a low-lying area or an area prone to flooding
- You live in a structure that historically has experienced flooding during heavy rainfall
- You’re in an area ordered evacuated by local authorities due to life-safety hazards
You SHOULD evacuate if one or more of the following applies to you:
- You live in Evacuation Zones B or C
- You’re registered with Pasco as a Special Needs Resident
- You would be vulnerable in the event of a power loss
Know your evacuation zone. Please visit mypas.co/Map to enter your street address on our interactive map, and to see other emergency information.
Please consider riding out the storm with family or friends. If that’s not an option, you can evacuate directly to a Pasco County Shelter. Shelters will open Tuesday, August 29, at 8:00 a.m.
Pasco County shelter information
- Pasco County to Open Shelters Ahead of Idalia
- Shelters to open Tuesday, August 29, at 8 a.m.
Pasco County is opening hurricane shelters for anyone who needs to leave their home ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia and has nowhere else to stay.
The following shelters will open Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at 8 a.m.:
- Centennial Middle School, 38505 Centennial Road, Dade City
- Sunlake High School, 3023 Sunlake Blvd., Land O’ Lakes
- Fivay High School, 12115 Chicago Avenue, Hudson
- River Ridge Middle and High Schools, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey
- Wiregrass Ranch High School, 2909 Mansfield Blvd., (Special Needs & General Population), Wesley Chapel
- Fasano Regional Hurricane Center, (Special Needs & General Population),
11611 Denton Avenue, Hudson
All shelters allow family pets. Learn what supplies you should bring with your
Please plan to stay with family, friends or neighbors, if possible. If that’s not an option, please evacuate directly to an open shelter. Visit MyPasco.net to find an open shelter near you. If you need a ride to a Pasco County shelter, please call 727.847.2411 to arrange a pick-up.
Pasco County’s Customer Service Center will be open until 7 p.m. Monday and will open 24 hours beginning Tuesday at 7 a.m. Please call 727.847.2411 or chat with us online at MyPasco.net. Call 911 if you need emergency assistance.
Visit MyPasco.net and follow Pasco County on social media for updates.
Pasco County Schools closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Pasco County Schools will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and resume regular school hours on Thursday. The closure includes all after-school enrichment programs, including PLACE, DELTA, and STAR.
Pasco County Emergency Managers require many of our schools to be storm shelters for families in our community. Based on information from the Pasco EOC, Tropical Storm Idalia is forecasted to impact Pasco County as a Category
3 hurricane, which means the possibility of storm surge for coastal areas, damaging winds, inland flooding, and widespread power outages.
The safety of our students, staff, and their families is of utmost importance to us. With the storm expected to grow in intensity before landfall, we urge all families to take necessary precautions to protect their homes and loved ones by preparing emergency kits, securing outdoor items, and staying updated with local advisories.
A list of storm shelters is forthcoming from the Pasco County EOC, and we will post that information on our website. There will be no breakfast on Tuesday morning at our school shelters, so those who plan on using our shelters are asked to bring their water and snacks.
Pasco-Hernando State College
Due to the projected inclement weather conditions of Tropical Storm Idalia, all PHSC campuses will be closed and classes cancelled Tuesday August 29th and Wednesday August 30th. Normal operations are expected to resume on Thursday August 31st unless otherwise notified.Campuses will be open and classes remain as scheduled for Monday August 27th.
Hernando County Emergency Management Announces Voluntary Evacuations
(Brooksville, FL) – Hernando County Emergency Management continues to monitor Tropical Storm Idalia.
Evacuation Orders and Public Shelter Openings Voluntary Evacuations have been issued for all areas west of US 19, which includes evacuation zones A, B, and C. All residents living in coastal and low-lying areas, as well as manufactured homes county wide, are included.
Residents are advised to seek safe shelter with family or friends that reside in a safe structure. If this is not a possibility, a public shelter will open at 12pm on Monday, August 28, 2023 at the below addresses.
West Hernando Middle School - Special Needs
14325 Ken Austin Pkwy.,
Brooksville, FL 34614
If you are needing the Special Needs Shelter and have a pet, transportation from either your house or shelter location for your pet is done through Animal Control with Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. Please call Hernando County Public Information Center (PIC) at 352-754-4083 to arrange pick up. The PIC is open.
D. S. Parrott Middle School - General Population and Pet Friendly
19220 Youth Dr.,
Brooksville, FL 34601
Nature Coast Technical High School - General Population
4057 California St.
Brooksville, FL 34604
Hernando High School - General Population
111 Ernie Chatman Run
Brooksville, FL 34601
Pet Friendly Shelter Tips
Hernando County Animal Services tips for Pet Friendly Sheltering during declared emergencies. Our citizens and their animals are housed in separate sections of the designated shelter(s). Designated shelters are typically Hernando County Schools. Animals will be housed in crates in a different location than where general population is located. If you need to seek shelter with your pet during a declared emergency the following list will help you be
Bring your own appropriately sized crate (County resources are limited)
Bring all your dogs required medications
Bring several days’ worth of your animals’ food
Ensure your dog is current on all vaccinations
Bring your own leash and collar. Ensure your dog is trained to walk on a leash
Bring any toys and/or bedding that will make your animal comfortable.
If your animal is fearful or shy, bring sheets to cover the crate while still allowing airflow.
If you bring a crate place something unique on it to distinguish it from others.
Understand that your animal will not be housed in the same section as you; however, you will have access to your animal.
Do not buy different snacks or food for the animal that they are not accustomed to, this will often cause the animals to have digestive issues; particularly when they are already stressed.
If your animal has any propensity to bite animals or humans, please obtain and utilize a muzzle.
Bring spray cleaner, paper towels etc., to be able to clean your animal’s crate.
Sandbag locations are open 8am-5pm on Monday, August 28, 2023. Sandbag locations will be open 8am and will close 12pm on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.
Linda Pedersen Park
6300 Shoal Line Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34609
Anderson Snow Park
1360 Anderson Snow Rd.
Spring Hill, FL 34609
*Enter through the service road between the park and the gymnastics place, the sand is located at the end.
Ridge Manor Community Center
34240 Cortez Blvd.
Ridge Manor, FL 33523
City of Brooksville DPW (open 24/7)
600 S Brooksville Ave.
Brooksville, FL 34601
These self-serve sandbag sites will remain open until weather conditions begin to deteriorate. This is a self-serve sandbag site ONLY, please bring your own shovel.
Hernando County Government’s Office of Emergency Management continues to monitor and inform our community about storm impacts. Visit the following web and social media sites for more information.
For the latest local conditions and a complete list of news alerts go to www.HernandoCounty.us/EM Sign up to receive weather alerts at www.AlertHernando.org Follow us on Facebook @HernandoCountyFire and @HernandoCoGov Follow us on Twitter @HernandoCoGov
Stay tuned as more information becomes available. Visit the Hernando County Emergency Management website at www.HernandoCounty.us/EM for all storm-related notices.
Citrus County mandatory evacuations
Citrus County Board of County Commissioners Issues Mandatory Evacuation Order
The Citrus County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has issued a local state of emergency in preparation for Tropical Storm Idalia. A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for identified affected areas within Citrus County until further notice.
The order applies to Evacuation Zone A, which includes all low-lying areas west of U.S. Highway 19 and some areas additional areas east of U.S. Highway 19. All other areas are advised to voluntary evacuate, especially those citizens living in mobile homes, manufactured homes, and recreational vehicles throughout the county. The most likely timeframe for deteriorating conditions across the state will be Tuesday evening and overnight from south to north along the Florida Gulf Coast.
The following shelter locations will open at 4:00 p.m.:
- • Special Needs: Forest Ridge Elementary School, 2927 North Forest Ridge Blvd., Hernando
- • Pet Friendly: Lecanto Primary, 3790 W Educational Path, Lecanto
- • General Population: Central Ridge Elementary School, 185 West Citrus Springs Blvd., Citrus Springs
Public shelters should be an option of last resort. Citizens should make all preparations to shelter with family or friends and exhaust all other options before utilizing a public shelter. Those requiring transport to a shelter should contact Citrus County Transit Services at (352) 527-7630, option 1.
Sexual offenders must report to the Citrus County Detention Facility to seek shelter if needed. The facility is located at 2604 W Woodland Ridge Dr., Lecanto, FL 34461.
Two full-service sandbag sites are open today, Monday, August 28:
• 7490 W Gulf-to-Lake Hwy, Crystal River (across from Dan’s)
• 4508 S Grandmarch Ave, Homosassa (off Grover Cleveland)
Full-service sandbag sites are currently open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Limit 12 bags per vehicle.
In addition, the following self-serve sandbag sites are available to citizens:
- • Bicentennial Park, 501 N Baseball Point, Crystal River
- • Citronelle Park, 7888 W Dunklin St, Dunnellon
- • Floral Park, 9530 S Parkside Avenue, Floral City
- • Homosassa Community Park, 4210 S Grandmarch Avenue
- • Ozello Park Boat Ramp, 398 N Pirate Point, Crystal River
- • Spruce Drive Boat Ramp, 4863 E Spruce Dr, Dunnellon
Self-serve sites are open 24 hours but are not monitored overnight for availability of supplies. Sand and sandbags will be provided. Those wishing to take advantage of the self-serve sites will need to bring a shovel. If you have any questions about sandbag sites, contact the Citrus County Road Maintenance Division at (352) 527-7610.
Non-essential county offices will remain closed through Wednesday, August 30. All Citrus County schools, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and DOH-Citrus will also be closed through Wednesday.
For more information and updates, call the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Citizen Information Line at (352) 249-2775, or visit: www.facebook.com/CitrusCountyBOCC.
CITRUS COUNTY SCHOOLS
We continue to monitor the approach of Tropical Storm Idalia along with our partners at the Emergency Operations Center. Although the forecast track is uncertain; however, Idalia is expected to become a hurricane Monday.
Emergency Operation officials have mandated the opening of our schools as shelters starting tomorrow Monday, August 28th in the afternoon. Therefore, we will be on a half day schedule for Monday, August 28th.
- Dismissal for Elementary: 12:35pm
- Dismissal for Middle School: 11:20am
- Dismissal for High Schools: 11:40am
All schools will be closed on Tuesday, August 29th and Wednesday, August 30th.
All after-school programs and extra-curricular activities are cancelled beginning Monday afternoon until further notice. As we continue to monitor the storm, we will update you as decisions are made.
Hillsborough Schools closed Tuesday and Wednesday
All Hillsborough County Public Schools and district offices will be closed beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29 and Wednesday, August 30. All after-school programs and extra-curricular activities are also canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The latest forecast brings TS Idalia up the west coast of Florida with storm surge and heavy rains expected to impact Hillsborough County by Tuesday evening and all-day Wednesday. With that in mind, county emergency officials have made the decision to activate some of our schools as storm shelters to house evacuees that are in flood zones.
At this point, it is anticipated that we will reopen all schools and resume normal operations on Thursday, August 31. We will provide further updates if that plan changes.
Polk County and the Department of Health-Polk County will open a special needs shelter at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. The shelter is located at the Department of Health-Polk County Specialty Care Unit, 1255 Brice Blvd., Bartow.
Residents who are pre-registered for special needs sheltering that need transportation must call to make arrangements at (863) 298-7027 before 10:00 p.m. tonight or between 7:00 – 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Residents who are not pre-registered for special needs sheltering but may be eligible for this service must also call regarding availability.
General population and a pet-friendly shelter will open at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.
Shelters to open include:
- Tenoroc High School – Pet Friendly 4905 Saddle Creek Rd. Lakeland
- Mulberry Middle School 500 Martin Luther King Ave. Mulberry
- Horizons Elementary 1700 Forest Lake Drive Davenport
- Chain of Lakes Elementary 7001 CR 653 Winter Haven
- Spessard L. Holland Elementary 2342 EF Griffin Road Bartow
- George Jenkins High School 6000 Lakeland Highlands Road Lakeland
Here’s info from the News Service of Florida
By Jim Turner ©2023 The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday warned residents of the state’s Gulf Coast, particularly in the Big Bend region of North Florida, to brace for a potential Category 2 hurricane making landfall Wednesday and causing life-threatening flooding and power outages.
“As we know, these things can wobble, so Floridians along our Gulf Coast should be vigilant even if you’re currently outside the cone,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.
The storm, named Idalia, was upgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday.
DeSantis said that while landfall appears most likely in Taylor and Dixie counties based on storm models, tracking is known to change. Taylor and Dixie are rural areas southeast of Tallahassee.
“There were models that had up to Cat 3,” DeSantis said. “The agreement seems to be Cat 2. But, again, there’s a lot that can happen. This thing hasn’t even gotten to Cuba yet, and the water in the gulf is very, very warm.”
Idalia is expected to become a hurricane when it gets over the eastern gulf, and the National Hurricane Center said storm surge and hurricane watches were expected to be issued Sunday for parts of Florida.
“The depression is forecast to become a hurricane over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and there is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge, flooding from heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as Tuesday,” the center said.
Computer models, commonly referred to as spaghetti models, were closely in agreement Sunday afternoon, putting the western edge of the potential track in the central Panhandle and the eastern edge near Tampa.
Staging areas were being set up in North Florida to help with power restoration and other recovery efforts following the storm.
DeSantis said the state has mobilized 1,100 members of the Florida National Guard, and truck weight limits have been lifted by the Florida Department of Transportation to help speed recovery.
The hurricane center said Sunday afternoon the center of Idalia was about 80 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. The system was moving north at 2 mph, bringing heavy rain to parts of western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Idalia’s northern speed is expected to pick up on Monday.
The center predicted that Idalia will bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to parts of Florida’s west coast and the Panhandle, with some isolated areas topping 10 inches, causing scattered flash flooding and urban flooding.
Cars and trucks were lining up at some Tallahassee gas stations Sunday afternoon to fill up in anticipation of the storm. But state officials warned motorists about a potential fuel-contamination problem at stations supplied by Citgo from the Levy County community of Chiefland south to Naples.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced “human error” at the Port of Tampa resulted in the “strong likelihood” of contamination of gas sold to a number of stations that are Citgo customers, including BJ’s and 7-Eleven stations and some unbranded stations. The department said the gas is likely contaminated with diesel fuel, which could cause engine damage or affect the operability of vehicles.
“Impacted stations have been asked to stop selling gas until the contaminated fuel is replaced and tanks are cleaned,” the department said in a news release. “Once the stations are cleared or have completed a corrective action plan, fuel will once again be safe for purchase.”
The department said a “more accurate list” of the affected stations was not available.
DeSantis and state Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said fuel supplies will not be interrupted.
“That is a concern,” DeSantis said. “Now, if the storm ends up more North Florida than Tampa, then maybe that’s not going to end up being as important for the storm.”
With the storm developing, DeSantis on Saturday issued a state of emergency for 33 counties, stretching from Lee County in Southwest Florida to Bay County in the Panhandle.
Also, Attorney General Ashley Moody activated a state hotline to report price gouging — 1-866- 966-7226. During storm-related emergencies, state law bars excessive increases in prices of such things as food, gasoline, hotel rooms, ice, lumber and water.
Meanwhile, a 14-day disaster-preparedness tax “holiday” began Saturday. The holiday, which provides sales-tax exemptions on such things as hurricane supplies, was approved this spring by lawmakers and DeSantis.
Florida school districts and state colleges announced closures this week as Tropical Storm Idalia threatened to become a hurricane that could reach the state’s Gulf Coast early Wednesday. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 46 counties in preparation for the storm. As of 3 p.m. Monday, 23 county districts announced closures for all or part of the school day Tuesday, with some closures stretching through Thursday. Schools in Citrus, Charlotte, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Suwannee and Taylor counties will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, while Lee County schools will be closed Tuesday. Jefferson County schools will be closed part of Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday. Madison County schools will be closed part of Tuesday and remain shuttered through Thursday, and Duval County schools have planned closures Tuesday through Thursday. Districts in Hamilton and Lake counties have announced closures only on Wednesday. Meanwhile, officials at six state colleges also are shuttering campuses. College of Central Florida, Florida Gateway College, Hillsborough Community College, North Florida College, Pasco-Hernando State College, and St. Petersburg College will be closed or have partial closures Tuesday and Wednesday. The state Department of Education’s website has posted a list of school and college shut-downs. The department said it is monitoring the storm and has advised people to “continue to visit our website for updates.”