Idalia, as of press time, is churning around 80 miles off the western tip of Cuba and barreling north toward Florida's west coast and panhandle, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. The storm is currently on track to put some 14 million Floridians in danger, many of whom are already under hurricane and tropical storm warnings.
Idalia, the first major storm of the season, is expected to gain speed and be reclassified as a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30. (Related: Over 1,300 flights cancelled and 6,000 delayed by SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS that hit the East Coast.)
Biden reportedly spoke with Florida Republican Gov. and presidential nominee Ron DeSantis on Monday, Aug. 28, right before the White House confirmed the state of emergency declaration for the Sunshine State.
DeSantis confirmed that he spoke with Biden as well as with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell. Biden reportedly assured the governor that the federal government will provide all the support it can for the state in preparation for the storm and its aftermath.
"This is going to be a major impact," said DeSantis in a press conference. "Buckle up for this one."
"Do what you got to do. You still have time today. You have time for most of tomorrow," he added, urging Floridians to make all the necessary preparations, including considering evacuating, to prepare for the dangerous conditions.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Executive Director Kevin Guthrie warned that Idalia is expected to bring a storm surge of between seven to 10 feet in Pinellas County, near Tampa Bay. Idalia is moving in a northward direction, with both North and South Carolina expected to face torrential rains of between four to eight inches that could unleash some scattered flooding.
Forty-nine counties in Florida are already under a state of emergency. These emergency warnings range from "storm surge watch" warnings, such as those issued along the Gulf Coast from Charlotte and Sarasota County to the border of Franklin and Gulf County; and to the worst "hurricane warning" for at least 14 counties from Manatee County in the West Central Florida region to coastal Jefferson on the Panhandle. Many of these counties will be issued evacuation orders in the coming days.
State agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), are preparing several hundred gallons of fuel for distribution. FHP and several other frontline agencies are preparing search-and-rescue teams to be dispatched all over the affected regions to help Floridians.
DeSantis announced that beginning 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, tolls would be waived to expedite Floridians and visitors when evacuation orders are given.
The governor added that schools all over the state will be closed on Tuesday, and school closures could last all week for some parts of Florida. The University of Florida and multiple other universities in the state have already announced campus closures and class cancellations for Tuesday and Wednesday, possibly also extending to Thursday.
After the worst of the storm passes, DeSantis announced that tens of thousands of electrical workers will be redirected to impacted areas to get power back on as quickly as possible. Still, DeSantis asked people to prepare for potentially lengthy power interruptions.
DeSantis has requested that state agencies allocate more than 25 pallets of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, more than 180 pallets of bottled water and more than 10 pallets of tarps to support residents in the path of the oncoming storm.
The Florida National Guard has also been fully activated, with around 2,500 guardsmen already mobilized for preparedness and response efforts and another 3,000 activated following DeSantis' press conference.
DeSantis, Guthrie and national agencies like FEMA and the National Hurricane Center are all urging Florida residents to heed advice given by state officials.
Learn more about natural disasters affecting the United States at Disaster.news.
Watch this episode of "Evolutionary Energy Arts" as hosts Michael and Cindy Lazaro discuss the preparations Florida is making for the coming of Idalia.