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Live updates on Idalia

Published August 28, 2023 at 5:23 AM EDT
In this photo made in a flight provided by mediccorps.org, damaged homes are seen in Keaton Beach, Fla., following the passing of Hurricane Idalia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/AP
In this photo made in a flight provided by mediccorps.org, damaged homes are seen in Keaton Beach, Fla., following the passing of Hurricane Idalia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Get the latest news and information on Idalia from WUSF

STORM UPDATES: From the National Hurricane Center

LIVE BLOG: Hurricane Idalia updates from NPR

SANDBAGS: Where to get sandbags ahead of Idalia

Hillsborough | Pinellas| Polk| Sarasota| Manatee| Pasco| Hernando| Citrus

ELECTRIC: How to track power outages in Florida counties during Hurricane Idalia

LATEST FROM THE STATE: Visit FloridaDisaster.org

EVACUATION ZONES: How to find out if you're in an evacuation zone

Follow Florida Storms on X, and download the Florida Storms mobile app

Hernando lifts evacuation orders

Posted August 31, 2023 at 3:30 PM EDT

Hernando County has lifted its evacuation orders for zones A, B, and C, coastal areas, low-lying areas, as well as manufactured homes.

To report any damage, debris, or downed trees, contact the Public Information center at (352) 754-4083.

Pinellas officials are assessing the damage

Posted August 31, 2023 at 1:31 PM EDT

Pinellas residents who live along the barrier islands and other low-lying are finding damage as they return to their homes.

Flooding impacted several areas, including neighborhoods along the St. Petersburg waterfront.

Cathie Perkins, the county's emergency management director, said crews are working throughout Pinellas to assess the damage.

"Initial reports out of St. Pete from the Shore Acres and Riviera Bay area, we estimate they have hundreds of homes, some may have had two feet of water inside of their homes," Perkins said. "So it's very important that we get out there and we look at those damages that they had."

Perkins encouraged anyone whose homes and businesses experienced flooding to report the damage here. Perkins said this will assist the county in receiving disaster relief funds.

She also said the county is setting up a crisis cleanup hotline, where homeowners can register for assistance from volunteers who can help with issues such as fallen trees, drywall and appliance removal, and roof tarping.

Photos capture the aftermath in Perry and Cedar Key

Posted August 31, 2023 at 7:26 AM EDT
A shipping container in the water
Caleb Ross
Fresh Take Florida
A shipping container and shed are seen under the Airport Road bridge in Cedar Key, Fla., following Hurricane Idalia’s landfall in Keaton Beach Wednesday morning, Aug. 30, 2023.

WUFT photojournalists made their way to Cedar Key and Perry to report on the damage following the arrival of Hurricane Idalia.

Read more coverage from WUFT and check out the photos here.

Pinellas barrier islands, bridges are now open

Posted August 31, 2023 at 6:28 AM EDT

As of Thursday at 5 p.m., access to Pinellas barrier islands reopened with no restrictions.

Also, bridges in the county — including the Sunshine Skyway, Gandy, Howard Frankland and Courtney Campbell Causeway — are now open.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Skyway fishing piers and rest areas remained closed.

An overhead view of Citrus County

Posted August 31, 2023 at 6:26 AM EDT

This video, provided by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, shows aerial views of the flooding that occurred in the county.

Citrus evacuees can return home Thursday

Posted August 31, 2023 at 6:11 AM EDT

Citrus County is returning to normal operations on Thursday once sheltered residents return to their homes, according to a news release.

Commissioners issued a mandatory curfew from Wednesday at 10 p.m. to Thursday at 6 a.m. prohibiting all travel within evacuation Zone A. Those residents will not be permitted to return until the curfew is lifted and conditions have been deemed safe.

Workers will continue cleanup efforts there, according to the release.

Roads on the west side of the county will remain closed until they are deemed safe.

Residents with questions can call the Citizen Information Line at 352-249-2775 through Friday at 5 p.m.

An estimated 6,000 homes sustain water damage in Pasco County

Posted August 30, 2023 at 7:45 PM EDT
Jill Bundrant’s 2020 Chevy Silverado stalled in the floodwaters. Her family was forced to crawl through a window when emergency responders arrived.
Gabriella Paul
WUSF Public Media
Jill Bundrant’s 2020 Chevy Silverado stalled in the floodwaters. Her family was forced to crawl through a window when emergency responders arrived.

Jill Bundrant and her daughter, Lacie Snyder, were among the first residents rescued by emergency personnel. The lifelong Pasco residents live one block from the canal in Hudson.

On Wednesday morning, they woke up to ankle-high water.

> Read more

Tampa International Airport is open for arrivals; full operations resume Thursday

Posted August 30, 2023 at 5:30 PM EDT
Tampa International Airport staff inspected the airfield and facilities Wednesday morning and determined that, aside from some flooding that did not impact runways, there was no serious damage from Hurricane Idalia.
Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport staff inspected the airfield and facilities Wednesday morning and determined that, aside from some flooding that did not impact runways, there was no serious damage from Hurricane Idalia.

Tampa International Airport has reopened to arriving flights only with plans to resume full operations at 3 a.m. Thursday.

Airport operations and maintenance staff inspected the airfield and facilities Wednesday morning and determined that, aside from some flooding that did not impact runways, the airport did not sustain any serious damage during Hurricane Idalia.

“TPA is fortunate to have avoided the worst effects of such a dangerous storm, after acting in an abundance of caution to protect the safety of our passengers, employees and facilities,” airport CEO Joe Lopano said in a statement.

Additional information for passengers:

TSA security checkpoints and all other services will reopen Thursday.

Passengers are urged to arrive at least two hours before scheduled departures.

Passengers should check with their airlines for the latest information on flight status.

Parking facilities, the SkyConnect train, the rental car center and other services are open, but some shops and restaurants may not open until Thursday.

Peter O. Knight, Tampa Executive and Plant City airports will remain closed until at least Thursday. Those three facilities are operated by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which also runs the main airport. Peter O. Knight on Davis Islands experienced significant flooding.

Bradenton water treatment plant offline due to rising tides

Posted August 30, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT

The city of Bradenton reports its water treatment plant went offline earlier today - the results of rising tides related to Idalia.

It is asking all city water customers to help by conserving water, and temporarily refraining from washing dishes and doing laundry.

There is no estimate for when the treatment plant will be operating again.

Tampa Bay area school districts, colleges announce reopening plans

Posted August 30, 2023 at 5:06 PM EDT

Schools in the Tampa Bay area are announcing their reopening plans following Hurricane Idalia:

Hillsborough County schools will reopen Thursday, but officials say if students can't get to school due to damage or flooding at their homes or unpassable roads, their family should contact the school and it will be treated as an excused absence.

Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando county schools will reopen Thursday.

Citrus County schools will remain closed Thursday due to many campuses still being used as shelters.

Polk County schools will reopen as planned Friday.

The University of South Florida will reopen its Tampa and Sarasota-Manatee campuses, but the St. Petersburg campus will remain closed Thursday. A decision about reopening Friday will be made on Thursday. Classes at USF's Mote Marine Laboratory are canceled Thursday.

University of Tampa, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College and Saint Leo University will reopen for classes Thursday.

Hillsborough zone A evacuation order has been rescinded

Posted August 30, 2023 at 4:38 PM EDT

Hillsborough County residents living in zone A evacuation areas can return to their homes, officials said.

Following initial safety assessments after Hurricane Idalia, Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie M. Wise planned to rescind the evacuation order at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Wise is asking residents to drive with caution, pay attention to the roadways, not drive through obstructions or standing water, and stay away from downed power lines. Be aware that some traffic signals may not be functioning.

Also, the county center in downtown Tampa and other county facilities will reopen to the public Thursday on a case-by-case basis pending any damages.

For information, go to HCFLGov.net/StaySafe.

AdventHealth North Pinellas moving patients back to hospital

Posted August 30, 2023 at 4:24 PM EDT

AdventHealth North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs evacuated all of its patients Tuesday and closed ahead of Hurricane Idalia. Hospital officials have announced that the emergency room will resume normal operations at 7 p.m. Wednesday and the facility is working to start transferring patients back to the hospital.

The scene from downtown Tampa

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:23 PM EDT
Flooding in Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa
Stephanie Colombini
WUSF Public Media

Hurricane Idalia produced a storm surge that pushed water into Tampa Bay, flooding areas along the coast.

WUSF's Stephanie Colombini waded through Bayshore Boulevard, which typically floods during heavy rains.

8-30 Steph Bayshore Q.mp3
Flooding in Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa

She also visited the Tampa Riverwalk near Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The water lapped up against the sidewalk, spilling over in some places. On the other side of the river, near the University of Tampa, it's going right up to the lawn.

The scene from Safety Harbor

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:15 PM EDT
Kylee Joseph and her family live in the Safety Harbor area. They came out to get some fresh air after hunkering down while Idalia passed.
Jessica Meszaros
WUSF Public Media
Kylee Joseph and her family live in the Safety Harbor area. They came out to get some fresh air after hunkering down while Idalia passed.

People came out to gawk at the flood waters at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park on Wednesday.

Waves were lapping over the sidewalks and could be knee-deep in some places.

Some were wakeboarding across it, others were going for a run, splashing around as if it was a routine day.

Kylee Joseph and her family live in the area.

They came out to get some fresh air after hunkering down while Idalia passed.

"I kind of slept through it honestly. Really fortunate that, you know, we didn't get a direct hit. And hopefully everybody further north is doing OK, and staying safe,” Joseph said.

Joseph added that her family noticed a bunch of trash that the storm spit out from the Gulf onto shore.

She said it was the perfect time to collect the garbage and recycle it.

Jessica Meszaros
WUSF Public Media

Tammie Anderson lives in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Safety Harbor, which she says is low-lying.

So, she and her family stayed in a hotel overnight. And they planned to stay away an extra night to let the potential flood waters level out.

"I'm trying to keep my dad from going back. He's ready to leave his room and go back to the house. But I told him, ‘We haven't even got the other part of it yet - the back end. So, stay there to make sure you're safe because once it comes in, we can't say whether you gonna get the help you need.’ ”]

Anderson says you have to have patience in these kind of situations.

In the meantime, her granddaughter Liyana kept busy in the floodwaters.

"I took one step and it all splashed!" she said.

Flooding at Safety Harbor Memorial Park
Jessica Meszaros

8-30 Meszaros Safety Harbor Q.mp3
Flooding at Safety Harbor Memorial Park

Chuck Vincent

Rescue efforts are now underway

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:06 PM EDT

Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie says search and rescue efforts are underway after Hurricane Idalia moved away from northeast Florida.

But he says the area they're focusing on now is very different from what they saw in Fort Myers last year following Hurricane Ian.

"Up here in the Big Bend, you may have two houses on a five-mile road," Guthrie said. "So that is going to take a very long time to clear that. Now we have more than enough assets to get that done in a timely manner, but I just want to go ahead and set expectations."

Guthrie says they're going to have to do a lot of tree-cutting to get into those areas.

He adds that FEMA is standing by to conduct joint damage assessments with state and local officials.

Riding the storm out in Homosassa

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:04 PM EDT
Man sitting on a picnic table
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
John Lechleidner owns the NautiTimes Seafood 'n Wings in Homosassa.

High waters following Hurricane Idalia are causing road closures and flooding throughout Hernando County.

Captain John Lechleiter is hoping to ride things out.

The water is piling up on the roads at the corner Eli Drive and Fish Bowl Drive in Homosassa.

John Lechleiter, who owns the Naut Time Wings and Seafood Shack, and he is sitting in the middle of a picnic table.

"I woke up this morning around 6:30, looked out the window and there was no flooding whatsoever. And now as you can see, it's more than a foot of water around," he said. "The restaurant is high and dry."

Lechleitner said he wouldn't evacuate until his cars, which are kind of high and dry right now, are underwater.

Photos: Flooding around the greater Tampa Bay region

Posted August 30, 2023 at 1:41 PM EDT

We have reporters around the area getting a sense of the flooding that's taking place across the region. Here's a small sampling:

Tampa Riverwalk:

Flooding in downtown Tampa
Stephanie Colombini
WUSF Public Media
Areas in downtown Tampa and near the Tampa Riverwalk were flooded following Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 30, 2023.

Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa:

Flooding in Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa
Stephanie Colombini
WUSF Public Media

Safety Harbor:

Flooding at Safety Harbor Memorial Park
Jessica Meszaros
Flooding on Indian Beach in Sarasota
Kerry Sheridan
WUSF Public Media

Indian Rocks Beach:

Flooding on Indian Rocks Beach
WUSF Public Media
Daylina Miller

Rising waters in Sarasota could have been worse

Posted August 30, 2023 at 12:01 PM EDT
High waters against a shoreline
Molly Reilly
Waters were high at Indian Beach in Sarasota following Hurricane Idalia.

Sarasota was spared the worst of the storm. Around 11 am, just about an hour before high tide, some people came out to Indian Beach to see how high the waves were.

Bobby Kelly and his wife say the waves looked at least a couple of feet higher than usual.

"Water is really high compared to usual. It's really choppy, especially for the bay, and it just started pouring down," Bobby Kelly said.

He said his home in Lakewood Ranch was fine and didn't lose power. But closer to the water, was a different story.

"We saw some docks over there that are completely submerged, water up to people's yards, and it's really murky," Bobby Kelly said.

Molly Reilly took pictures of the gray waves with her husband and daughter, and was soon turned back by the bands of rain.

"It feels like cold pelting rain," she said. "I'm not used to cold."

Sarasota police have closed a number of roads and are urging drivers to stay away from downtown and St. Armand's Circle.

Alafia River at flood stage

Posted August 30, 2023 at 11:30 AM EDT

The Alafia River has reached major flood stage and forced road closures in Hillsborough County.

The river reached 6.56 feet around 8 a.m., according to a news release, and that level was expected to rise as a result of Hurricane Idalia storm surge, heavy rains, and high tides later in the afternoon.

Several roads in Hillsborough County have been closed.

Citrus schools closed Thursday

Posted August 30, 2023 at 11:20 AM EDT

Citrus County schools will also be closed on Thursday.

Due to the ongoing coastal impact from Hurricane Idalia, many schools are continuing to be used as shelters.


The scene from Weeki Wachee

Posted August 30, 2023 at 11:04 AM EDT
Flooded road
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Roads in Weeki Wachee were flooded following Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 30, 2023.

WUSF's Steve Newborn reports live from Weeki Wachee.

8-30 Weeki Wachee VCR Blog.mp3

Tampa International Airport plans to reopen after flooding

Posted August 30, 2023 at 10:57 AM EDT

Tampa International Airport will reopen to arriving flights only at 4 p.m. Wednesday. It plans to resume full operations at 3 a.m. Thursday.

TPA said staff inspected the airfield and determined it wasn't seriously damaged during the storm. The airport shared video of flooding on the south end of the airfield Wednesday morning.

Tampa International Airport Damage Assessment

Tampa International Airport / Courtesy

A warning if your home's flooded

Posted August 30, 2023 at 10:54 AM EDT

High water triggered by Hurricane Idalia is becoming a major problem in the western parts of Pinellas County.

Emergency Manager Cathie Perkins issued guidance if your home has become flooded.

She says if you're able to reach your breaker box before the water starts coming in, turn it off and call Duke Energy to shut off the power at the meter.

"If you are at home and you have water inundation inside of your house, please do not touch the breakers, stay elevated, do not be walking through the water," Perkins said.

And remember to document your damage.

"If your home or business is flooded, before you clean up or move any debris, please make sure you take pictures and inform your insurance company," Perkins said. "List all the damages and losses that you have, it's helpful to take pictures of high water that you had in the house."

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says if you are stuck inside your house and need to be rescued, please call 911 and they will come and get you.

He says to stay away from the beaches and the western side of Pinellas County.

North Pinellas is under water; barrier islands closed

Posted August 30, 2023 at 10:44 AM EDT
Photo shows flooding in Safety Harbor
Chuck Vincent
The park next to Safety Harbor Pier was under water following Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 30, 2023.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says flood waters and high tides from Hurricane Idalia have closed the county's barrier islands and gulf beaches from the Dunedin Causeway to the Pinellas Bayway.

Gualtieri said the western part of the county has seen significant flooding.

This is not a re-entry, this is a closure of the beaches," Gualtieri said. "Anybody that is not on the beaches will not be able to get out there. Uh, the west side of the county is what is significantly impacted. So, if you're on the east side of the county, please don't go to the west side of the county. Because it's not limited to just the Gulf beaches, we're also seeing problems along Alternate 19."

Gualtieri says water is getting under the front doors of some beachfront hotels, and the highest water is expected after 11 this morning.

Idalia makes landfall at a Category 3 hurricane

Posted August 30, 2023 at 8:04 AM EDT

The National Hurricane Center says Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in the Florida Big Bend around 7:45 a.m. Its maximum sustained winds were estimated to be 125 mph.

Flooding at Bayshore Boulevard, Clearwater Beach and Derby Lane

Posted August 30, 2023 at 6:31 AM EDT

Tampa Police posted a photo and video of flooding at Bayshore Boulevard early this morning.

If you're in the city of Tampa, you can report street flooding here.

Clearwater Police posted these images, including flooding on Clearwater Beach. They're urging motorists to stay off the roads.

And St. Petersburg Police posted a video of what looks like a rushing river in front of Derby Lane.

Florida evacuates 4,000 prisoners from 35 facilities statewide ahead of hurricane

Posted August 30, 2023 at 6:29 AM EDT
Florida State Prison is located in Raiford, Fla, as seen on Feb. 23, 2023.
Augustus Hoff
Fresh Take Florida
Florida State Prison is located in Raiford, Fla, as seen on Feb. 23, 2023.

Florida evacuated 4,000 prisoners from nearly three dozen facilities statewide ahead of approaching Hurricane Idalia, moving inmates to more robust buildings better equipped to survive what were expected to be dangerous conditions.

The Department of Corrections said Tuesday some of the smaller prisons, work release centers and work camps were directly in the path of the storm, such as the Cross City Work Camp in Dixie County along Florida’s Big Bend coastland and the Tallahassee Community Release Center in the state’s capital.

State prisons across the region also suspended visitation for the days after the storm was expected to make landfall on Wednesday. Those prisons were in Bradford, Hardee, Jefferson, Madison, Marion, Madison, Sumter, Suwanee, Union and Volusia counties.

Extra food and water was being prepared for delivery to prisons in Hurricane Idalia’s path. The agency said major prisons also were equipped with backup generators, and that it was prepared to serve bagged meals and bottled water in the event of power failures or dangerous conditions that prevented inmates from leaving their cells.

> Read more

Calm before storm: Historic Florida fishing village prepares for historic hurricane surge

Posted August 30, 2023 at 5:37 AM EDT
A boy walking on a pier next to a wooden building with a sign that reads, "I Love Cedar Key."
Sydney Johnson
Fresh Take Florida
A boy faces the wind in Cedar Key as Hurricane Idalia approaches Florida's Gulf Coast Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023.

Ahead of Hurricane Idalia’s landfall, expected early Wednesday, residents of this historic, Gulf coast fishing village renowned for its waterfront seafood restaurants and quaint stores were wondering whether their luck was about to run out.

On the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, windows were boarded Tuesday, businesses were empty and cars were missing from driveways. A few people on golf carts drove along the island’s roads ahead of the storm – just before an evacuation.

Forecasters predicted the storm would strengthen to at least a Category 3 hurricane before landfall, with storm surges of up to 10 to 15 feet.

Disaster planners who have studied Cedar Key’s housing and community vulnerabilities have predicted that a Category 3 storm could overwhelm over 80% of homes on the island and cripple nearly all its critical infrastructure.

> Read more

What makes Idalia so potent? It's feeding on intensely warm water that acts like rocket fuel

Posted August 30, 2023 at 4:49 AM EDT

Feeding on some of the hottest water on the planet, Hurricane Idalia is expected to rapidly strengthen as it bears down on Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast. It’s been happening a lot lately.

“It’s 88, 89 degrees (31, 32 degrees Celsius) over where the storm’s going to be tracking, so that’s effectively rocket fuel for the storm,” said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. “It’s basically all systems go for the storm to intensify.”

That water “is absurdly warm and to see those values over the entire northeast Gulf is surreal,” said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

Hurricanes get their energy from warm water. Idalia is at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

> Read more

Bridge and road closures across the greater Tampa Bay region

Posted August 30, 2023 at 4:27 AM EDT

The eastbound lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway have reopened. Clearwater Public Safety announced the update at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Westbound was never closed.

As of 4 p.m., the Sunshine Skyway bridge across Tampa Bay remains closed in both directions due to high winds from Hurricane Idalia.

The Howard Frankland Bridge (I-275) also remains closed in both directions.

Hillsborough County has reported road closures in the following locations:

    • Providence Run Boulevard / Redbridge Drive: tree blocking road (Brandon)
    • Park Drive at McMullen Road is closed due to flooding (Riverview area)
    • Memorial Highway and Dana Shores 
    • U.S. 41 between Big Bend Road and Ohio Street 
    • 50th Street and Madison Avenue 
    • Sheldon Road and Moore Road
    • Gulf City Road
    • 19th Avenue closed at 14th Street NW in Ruskin
    • Causeway Boulevard and 47th Street 

    All Pinellas County bridges are closed with the exception of Gandy Bridge, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
    Access to all barrier islands has also been closed to citizens and residents with permits. They include:

    • Belleair Beach
    • Belleair Shore
    • Clearwater
    • Dunedin Causeway/ Honeymoon Island
    • Indian Rocks Beach
    • Indian Shores
    • Madeira Beach
    • North Redington Beach
    • Redington Beach
    • Redington Shores
    • St. Pete Beach
    • Tierra Verde
    • Treasure Island

    There is no reentry until further notice. The county sheriff's office said they will provide updates there are changes to the barrier island closures.

    Hernando County officials have ordered no access to all residential areas west of U.S. 19 due to the rapidly rising storm surge. The area is also no longer accessible to emergency vehicles for rescues. If you are stranded and in need of rescue, call 911.

    Sarasota Police said they shut down the following areas due to flooding:

    • Ringling Causeway Bridge
    • Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue
    • Fruitville Road and U.S. 41
    • 1st St. and Cocoanut Avenue
    • 2nd St. and Cocoanut Avenue
    • Cocoanut Avenue and Palm Avenue
    • Gulfstream Avenue and Palm Avenue
    • Siesta Bridge at Siesta Drive

      Sarasota County said Manasota Key Road north of Blind Pass and Middle Beach is washed out. Traffic cannot pass in either direction. The county advises people stay away from the area.

      The town of Longboat Key said the island is inaccessible and remains closed on both ends. The Ringling Bridge, Cortez Bridge and Manatee Avenue Bridge remain closed. There is also no access to the island through St. Armands and Bradenton Beach, which are flooded and closed.

      Flooding reported along Pinellas County coastal areas

      Posted August 30, 2023 at 1:46 AM EDT

      Coastal communities in the greater Tampa Bay region are starting to report flooding early today.

      The city of Treasure Island posted images online of water coming over the sea wall along the intracoastal waterway. There is also some minor flooding along Gulf Boulevard.

      The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says a significant amount of water is coming onshore in Madeira Beach, just north of Treasure Island.

      Deputies are closing portions of Gulf Boulevard between 129th and 150th avenues.

      In St Pete Beach, 3 to 4 feet of water is flooding Sunset Way at Gulf Boulevard.

      In Manatee County, Bradenton police are reporting waves lapping up on the Palma Sola Causeway.

      Water comes ashore in Madeira Beach early Wednesday.
      City of Treasure Island
      Water comes ashore in Madeira Beach early Wednesday.

      Despite threat of deadly storm surge, some Pasco residents are sheltering in place

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 11:40 PM EDT
      Pasco County
      Evacuation Zone Finder

      Despite mandatory evacuation orders in Coastal Pasco County, some residents are choosing to stay in their homes.

      As of Tuesday at 10:30 p.m., the number of residents in county shelters reached 564. That’s a fraction of the estimated 72,590 residents under an Evacuation Zone A order by Pasco County.

      See map of Evacuation Zones: https://pascogis.pascocountyfl.net/evaczone/finder.html

      > Read more

      Tornado watch issued for parts of Florida, extended until Wednesday 3 p.m.

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 8:36 PM EDT

      A tornado watch has been issued for Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Volusia counties until 3 p.m. EDT.

      Sign up for alerts through the Florida Storms app.

      Tracking power outages in Florida in the wake of Idalia

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 8:32 PM EDT

      Here's the latest on power outages due to Hurricane Idalia in the Greater Tampa Bay region and the rest of Florida as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

      More than 251,000 people in the state were still without power, according to Power Outage USA in its county-by-county map.

      Pinellas County has the most in the Tampa Bay area with about 27,000.

      The majority of outages in Florida are in the Big Bend area and eastern Panhandle, in the path of Idalia's landfall and trek out of the state.

      Jefferson, Taylor, Madison, Suwannee and Hamilton counties have close to 100 percent of residents without power. Leon County has about 30,000 customers in the dark.

      > Read more

      Dangers of Idalia's storm surge projected to extend into Wednesday afternoon's king tide

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:58 PM EDT

      A rare blue supermoon could raise tides above normal, exasperating the flooding dangers of Hurricane Idalia’s storm surge in the greater Tampa Bay region and the rest of Florida’s Gulf coast.

      The moon will be closest to the Earth on Wednesday as Idalia is expected to make landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm in the Big Bend of Florida. While a supermoon can make for a spectacular backdrop in photos of landmarks around the world, its intensified gravitational pull also makes tides higher.

      The effect is known as a king tide, and Gulf coast will experience two on Wednesday as Idalia’s storm surge pounds the coast. The first occurs overnight while Idalia is still churning in the Gulf. But officials are warning residents from the Big Bend to Tampa Bay that the biggest danger could come from the afternoon high tide.

      > Read more

      Connect with others to address hurricane anxiety

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT

      Many in Southwest Florida are feeling the weight of Hurricane Idalia as it resurfaces relatively fresh wounds left by Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact last September.

      Whether it's anxiety, grief, anger, or frustration,Stacey Cook, president and CEO of SalusCare in Fort Myers, says to acknowledge these thoughts and reach out to others.

      “Oftentimes, we feel a little reticent in doing this, it feels very forward," said Cook. "But everybody is in a position right now, or many people I should say, where they're feeling very much the same."

      > Read more

      Here's a checklist for returning home after a hurricane or flood

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
      Florida Power & Light

      It can be overwhelming to return to your home after evacuating, especially if there's wind or water damage.

      The Red Cross has offered up some checklists for consideration to help make the process a little easier.

      Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need.

      > Read more

      What to do if you are asked to evacuate your home; evacuation orders and shelters for Florida

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT

      Ahead of Hurricane Idalia making landfall, evacuations (mandatory and voluntary) have been issued for several coastal counties in Florida.

      Hurricane Idalia strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane early Tuesday morning and is expected to intensify to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region Wednesday morning. This could potentially bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge and areas of flash flooding to Florida.

      If you have been asked to leave the area, bring your emergency supply kit, which should include cellphones, chargers, medicines, licenses, food and cash enough to accommodate at least three days. You may not have access to these supplies for days or even weeks after a hurricane.

      Turn off appliances, your home’s electricity, gas and water before leaving. Prepare to take alternate routes as traffic can build up and roads could be blocked. Tolls have been waived on Florida’s west coast for seven days to allow for safe evacuations.

      Have a full tank of gas handy. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and may run out early due to high demand.

      > Read more

      Money in the federal Disaster Relief Fund will be available to help after Idalia

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 5:26 PM EDT

      Money remaining in the federal Disaster Relief Fund will be available to help after Hurricane Idalia, along with providing assistance following the deadly Maui wildfires and other extreme weather-related events, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday.

      As the agency seeks an additional $12 billion from Congress as a “bridge” to handle crises through the end of the year, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said $3.4 billion remaining in the fund is enough to handle the current disasters.

      “I want to stress that while immediate-needs funding will ensure we can continue to respond to disasters, it is not a permanent solution,” Criswell said during a White House briefing. “My primary responsibility at FEMA is to ensure that we are always postured to respond to any disaster and to provide the life-saving and life-sustaining support when needed.”

      Criswell also said the agency has staff members available to simultaneously respond to multiple large events.

      > Read more

      Expert says Florida's insurance market is better prepared for Idalia

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
      This map shows the earliest arrival of tropical storm force winds for Hurricane Idalia.
      National Weather Service
      This map shows the earliest arrival of tropical storm force winds for Hurricane Idalia.

      Hurricane Idalia is making its way to Florida with an expected landfall tomorrow morning. And with hurricanes, comes property damage and insurance claims.

      The state’s property insurance market took a huge hit last hurricane season.

      Mark Friedlander, with The Insurance Information Institute, said there are new changes that homeowners should pay attention to.

      Talia Blake: Over the past year, there have been a lot of changes to Florida's insurance market. What should homeowners know ahead of Idalia making landfall in the state?

      Mark Friedlander: While there's been a lot of volatility in Florida's property insurance market for several years, the insurance industry is in a good capital position to pay claims from the incoming storm.

      How to keep your furry friends safe while weathering the storm

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 4:41 PM EDT

      With Hurricane Idalia headed towards Florida, it is important to keep your pets safe from the storm, too.

      Orange County Animal Services recommends that pet owners maintain their animal’s routine as much as possible.

      Animals may feel anxious or scared and try to escape during a storm so animal services recommends keeping a close, watchful eye on them, walking them with a leash and keeping a collar with tags on them.

      Orange County Animals services said that animals will arrive at the shelter without collars, tags or microchips during a storm.

      The best way to avoid your pet becoming lost in the storm is to take proactive measures like having a tag made with your current information and affixing it to the pet’s collar. If your pet is already microchipped, take the time to ensure that the information attached to the microchip is correct.

      > Read more

      Idalia's potential impacts to Southwest Florida, including Sarasota County

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 4:35 PM EDT
      A map of Florida showing storm surge watches, warnings and expected inundations across the Gulf Coast.
      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 4-7 feet to include Tampa/St. Pete.

      As folks in Southwest Florida watch Hurricane Idalia head north into the Gulf of Mexico, many are wondering what they should be expecting and when. WGCU's Sandra Viktorova spoke with senior meteorologist, Megan Borowski, with Florida Public Radio Emergency Network to get an update for the region.


      Borowski: So good news is this is not Ian. So, as of right now this is not Ian. The track for Idalia is farther north, now that could change. But as of the latest forecast models look like we could get tropical storm force gusts in our area, really overnight into tomorrow morning is when we get those gusty winds.

      > Read more

      SNAP benefits are available early

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:54 PM EDT

      The Department of Children and Families is making SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits available early to recipients across the state due to the storm.

      Families that would have normally received their September SNAP benefits from Sept 1-14 can begin receiving them starting Tuesday, according to a news release.

      The department encouraged recipients to use the funds to purchase non-perishable food items ahead of Hurricane Idalia.

      "We know how helpful the early release of food assistance benefits can be for our SNAP recipients in purchasing non-perishable items in preparing for the storm or in replenishing food losses after the storm,” DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris said in the release. “If you are in the path of this storm, it is important to finalize your preparations. The Department will do all that it can to support those impacted by this storm.”

      Eligible recipients will have the benefits automatically added to their EBT card. There is no need for recipients to apply for the early release of benefits.

      SNAP recipients in the following counties will receive their benefits early:

      Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla counties. 

      U.S. Senator Rick Scott urges Pasco County residents to heed to evacuation orders

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:42 PM EDT
      U.S. Senator Rick Scott speaking at a table sitting next to two other people.
      Pasco County Government
      U.S. Senator Rick Scott was at the emergency operations center in Pasco County on Tuesday imploring residents to take evacuation orders for Hurricane Idalia seriously.

      U.S. Sen. Rick Scott made an appearance at the emergency operations center in Pasco County on Tuesday.

      He echoed the pleas of local officials that residents must take evacuation orders for Hurricane Idalia seriously.

      He says that those in evacuation zones should not assume that emergency responders will be able to reach them.

      "They will do everything they can to save your life but in the middle of a storm they can't get out if the winds [are] too high, the water's too high -- and then after that we're gonna have flooding," Sen. Rick Scott said during the briefing.

      The National Weather Service predicts that coastal areas of Pasco County could see five to eight feet of storm surge between midnight and 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

      You can view the county's evacuation zone map here.

      Neighborhoods bordering the Cotee River and Anclote River are especially vulnerable to overflowing water, even after the hurricane has passed.

      "We are gonna have water in people's houses, and we're approximating anywhere between five and eight feet," emergency management director Andy Fossa said.

      In anticipation of the flood risk, the sheriff's office and fire rescue teams have relocated the majority of its high-water rescue vehicles and brush trucks to the west side of the county.

      Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Pasco residents in Zone A or those in low-lying areas and mobile homes.

      Voluntary evacuation are also in place for Zones B and C, as well as residents with special needs or those who would be vulnerable in the event of power loss.

      Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport will close overnight

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:39 PM EDT

      Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport will close to passengers and all airline and private operations at 7 tonight, with plans to reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday, airport officials said in a news release.

      Airport officials said reopening plans were based on an initial assessment of damage.

      The statement from airport management said the terminal building would be locked at 7 p.m. and would not serve as a shelter.

      Travelers were urged to check with their airlines for information on flight schedules.

      The last scheduled airline arrival today is a 4:13 p.m. Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta. A 5:23 p.m. flight from Sarasota to Atlanta, also a Delta flight, is the last scheduled departure.

      Uber offering free rides to some Florida shelters

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:03 PM EDT

      People living in Hernando, Hillsborough, Leon, Manatee and Pinellas counties who are trying to evacuate to a shelter are able to catch a ride for free of up to $35 each way to and from a state-approved evacuation shelter.

      Follow these instructions to redeem a free round trip through the app:

      1. Open the app
      2. Tap "Account" on the bottom right
      3. Tap "Wallet"
      4. Scroll down to "Add Promo Code"
      5. Enter the code "IDALIARELIEF"
      6. Select any of the following state-approved Florida evacuation shelters in Hernando, Hillsborough, Leon, Manatee and Pinellas counties listed at floridadisaster.org/planprepare/shelters.

      There's a two-trip limit per rider, and the discount doesn't apply to the driver's tip.

      Florida utility companies make their final preparations in advance of Idalia

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:00 PM EDT

      Hurricane Idalia is expected to bring strong winds, torrential rain, flooding and storm surge, which all will likely cause power outages.

      Major utility companies in Florida are making their final preparations in advance of the storm.

      “Duke Energy has employees that their full-time job is storm preparation,” Lee Freedman, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, said. “So, 52 weeks out of the year, they're preparing for a storm like this. Throughout hurricane season we make sure we have plenty of materials on hand. So I'm talking about power poles, wires, transformers, everything we'll need to restore power after a storm.”

      Freedman said the company has mobilized additional help from outside of Florida in advance of the storm. Thousands of power trucks are now staged at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

      Rows of white Duke Energy trucks parked on Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
      Duke Energy
      Duke Energy
      Duke Energy has mobilized over 5,000 responders as the company prepares for power outages caused by fast-approaching Hurricane Idalia.

      "We have sister utilities in the Midwest...Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky. Line workers, tree trimmers, so in total we'll have about 5,000 workers here. We're going to bus them to hotels, they're going to get a good night's sleep and then once the storm passes and the conditions are safe they're going to start assessing damage and restoring power in the morning," he said.

      Florida Power and Light and Tampa Electric has also mobilized crews throughout the state, with TECO saying they have about three thousand workers ready to respond following the storm.

      Freedman said if you do lose power, disconnect any nonessential electrical equipment so that when power is restored, circuits don't overload.

      Power companies said fallen trees can delay restoration efforts and that customers should stay away from downed lines.

      Customers can also download the Duke Energy app on their phones to report if their power is out and to see a map of current outages.

      Downtown Tampa garages are free for car storage until Thursday morning

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 2:55 PM EDT

      According to the City of Tampa, all Tampa's Downtown city garages will be open and free today, Tuesday, Aug. 29 and Wednesday, Aug. 30 for residents to store their cars. Cars must be moved out of the garages by Thursday morning.

      St. Petersburg updates its residents on Idalia preparations

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 1:03 PM EDT
      St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch in front of a podium surrounded by county officials.
      City of St. Petersburg, Florida
      In a news briefing Tuesday morning, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch updated residents on preparations for Hurricane Idalia.

      St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch updated residents Tuesday morning on preparations for Hurricane Idalia.

      Speaking at a news briefing, he warned people to not be fooled by the path, which has shifted to the west.

      Welch said the storm will still bring high winds and rain overnight, but it's Wednesday that he's most concerned about.

      “You may wake up tomorrow and see sunny skies and think the storm is over,” Welch said. “But it's important to understand that the highest impact for storm surge is tomorrow afternoon around 2 p.m.”

      Welch says St. Petersburg is still expecting four to seven feet of storm surge.

      He asked people who don't live in a low-lying area not to visit or sight-see.

      The news briefing also included comments from Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Baker. He said 4,500 line crews and other personnel from as far away as Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are being staged at Tropicana Field to address expected power outages.

      Baker said Duke will be getting assistance from its smart grid technology. In some cases, that can digitally help the grid to heal itself.

      "In past storms we have seen significant advantages. I know in the last major storm we had we had over 3.3 million minutes of interruptions that did not occur because of that smart grid technology," Baker said.

      He also said crews cannot physically start repairing downed lines until sustained winds are under 35 miles an hour.

      These Tampa residents are willing to ride Idalia out at home

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 12:29 PM EDT
      Women stands with a shopping cart in a parking lot.
      Stephanie Colombini
      Maddie Joyce moved to Florida earlier this year from Chicago, so doesn't know what to expect when it comes to hurricanes.

      Residents across the greater Tampa Bay region are spending the day getting ready for Hurricane Idalia. The storm is projected to make landfall along Florida's Big Bend but could still cause life-threatening storm surge and power outages in this area.

      25-year-old Maddie Joyce stocked up on water and canned goods at a Publix in South Tampa.

      "I actually just moved down in January so this is like my first, so I don't really know what I'm doing," Joyce said.

      The recent transplant from Chicago said she's getting advice from friends in the area. She plans to ride out the storm in her highrise apartment downtown in Zone C, which is not yet under a mandatory evacuation order.

      39-year-old Courtney Koch is a fifth generation Floridian, so she has experienced plenty of storms before.

      "I'm of the mindset where I've seen a lot worse but I'm also someone who really much likes to be prepared and not to be caught off guard, I know these things can turn," Koch said.

      She, too, plans to stay put but has stocked up on supplies, cleared her patio of loose items and will monitor the situation.

      > Read more

      Hillsborough County officials are preparing for Idalia

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 12:23 PM EDT

      Even though the eye of Hurricane Idalia is forecast to strike land far north of our region, Hillsborough County officials aren't leaving anything to chance.

      Storm surges of up to seven feet are expected in Tampa Bay, as water is pushed into the mouth of the bay.

      Tim Dudley, Hillsborough's director of emergency management, said there is a serious risk of rising waters before and long after the storm.

      “We are expecting a surge up to seven feet. And record flooding potential on the Alafia River. Residents must understand this: the storm surge may be delayed through Wednesday. While it may look nice outside, when the rain ends, the threat has not passed,” he said.

      Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies are helping get residents out of low-lying evacuation zones, particularly around Tampa Bay and rivers.

      “We're in those areas that we've asked to evacuate, Zone A. Those coastal areas that are going to be affected by this storm. We're out there asking people to leave. Asking to keep your family safe and go somewhere else,” Chronister said.

      A mandatory evacuation order has been given for people living in Zone A which includes home in flood zones, and all mobile and manufactured homes throughout Hillsborough.

      Emergency workers are asking people to evacuate before Tuesday nighttime. Chronister said deputies and emergency workers will not be able to respond to calls for help once winds get too strong for vehicles to be safely on the roads.

      Take video of your home to help with insurance claims, CFO Patronis advises

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT

      Florida’s chief financial officer is advising residents to record video of their home and belongings before and after Hurricane Idalia to help make insurance claims “goes smoothly.”

      CFO Jimmy Patronis says to have a “cut-and-dry” claim process, take video on a smartphone outdoors and indoors of “what your house looks like today.”

      That includes “your floor coverings, your wall coverings, your personal effects,” he says in a video released Tuesday.

      If the storm leaves damage, make another video as further documentation for the insurance company.

      “What this is going to do, if you’re affected by this storm, it’s going to give you a cut-and-dry example of what your house looks like before the storm and what it looks like after the storm, if you had damage,” he says.

      Shelters open in Pasco

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 7:59 AM EDT

      Pasco County is opening hurricane shelters Tuesday 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 pet here.

      For a ride to a shelter, call 727-847-2411 to arrange a pick-up.

      Tampa-area residents heed warnings

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 7:14 AM EDT
      Men loading sandbags into a wheelbarrow
      Chris O'Meara
      Members of the Tampa Parks and Recreation Dept., help residents with sandbags Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Tampa. Residents along Florida's gulf coast are making preparations for the effects of Tropical Storm Idalia.

      Idalia became a hurricane on Tuesday as it intensified on a path toward Florida’s Gulf coast, with the National Hurricane Center warning of an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds in Florida in the next two days.

      It’s projected to have sustained winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph) as it approaches Florida, the Hurricane Center said. That would make it a Category 3 hurricane. The center of Idalia is forecast to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday, reach the Gulf coast of Florida within the Hurricane Warning area on Wednesday, and move close to the Carolina coastline on Thursday.

      Florida residents loaded up on sandbags and evacuated from homes in low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast as Idalia intensified Monday and forecasters predicted it would hit in days as a major hurricane with potentially life-threatening storm surges.

      “Just got to prepare for these things, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst and, you know, hunker down, as they say,” said Derek Hughes as he waited to load up his car with sandbags at a city park in Tampa.

      > Read more

      St. Pete-Clearwater Airport suspending flights

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:28 AM EDT

      Crews in place to address power outages

      Posted August 29, 2023 at 6:09 AM EDT

      Crews were being stationed in areas such as Marion County and Lake City to respond to power outages from what is expected to be a powerful Idalia.

      Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric each said they were staging thousands of workers, including Duke bringing in crews from its parent company's operations in the Midwest.

      In addition, representatives from the Florida Municipal Electric Association said workers from more than 30 utilities across the country are prepared to help the organization’s members.

      Pinellas County will open nine additional shelters Tuesday morning

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 10:47 PM EDT

      Pinellas County will open nine additional shelters at 7 a.m. Tuesday for residents who are evacuating for Tropical Storm Idalia. These shelters are in addition to a special needs shelter that opened Monday night at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg.

      Whether evacuating or staying home, residents should be situated in a safe place by Tuesday evening. Shelter tips can be found here: https://pinellas.gov/emergency-information/public-shelters/. Evacuation zones can be found at https://disaster.pinellas.gov.

      Shelters open as of 7 a.m. Tuesday:

      • Campbell Park Elementary School, 1051 7th Ave S, St. Petersburg 
      • Carwise Middle School, 3301 Bentley Dr, Palm Harbor  
      • Dunedin Middle School (special needs), 70 Patricia Ave, Dunedin  
      • Gibbs High School (pets), 850 34th St S, St. Petersburg  
      • John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg (special needs), 701 16th St S, St. Petersburg 
      • Largo High School, 410 Missouri Ave, Largo (pets) 
      • Lealman Innovation Academy, 4900 28th St N, Lealman  
      • New Heights Elementary School, 3901 37th St N, St. Petersburg  
      • Palm Harbor Middle School, 1800 Tampa Rd, Palm Harbor  
      • Palm Harbor University High School, 1900 Omaha St, Palm Harbor (special needs and pets) 

      Moffitt Cancer Center suspending operations from Tuesday evening until Wednesday at noon

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 9:55 PM EDT

      Moffitt Cancer Center will suspend all normal operations from 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, through at least noon Wednesday, Aug. 30, for both in-person and virtual visits at all campuses and locations.

      This includes surgeries, procedures, infusions, imaging and clinic appointments. On Aug. 30, morning appointments will be rescheduled; appointments starting at noon are business as usual.

      Moffitt will call all patients affected to reschedule. Monitor the patient portal, the patient hotline at 813-745-3500 and Moffitt’s social media platforms for the latest.

      Moffitt Cancer Center has developed a wallet card for cancer patients in case of a natural disaster. The card is free and can be downloaded. They recommend writing your information on the card and then laminating it to protect it from possible water damage. It’s also important to have your insurance card with you at all times. The wallet card is available in English and Spanish.

      Information about your physicians and treatment is available on the Moffitt Patient Portal, but it’s good to have a hard copy of the information just in case your cell phone or laptop battery dies and/or the internet and cell phone signals are down.

      Moffitt is not a shelter during a storm. Moffitt advises patients who believe they will evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane to register for special needs disaster assistance with your county. The Sunshine Line is available for free transportation to a special needs shelter for those in need of transportation assistance.

      Some Florida tolls are being lifted to help aid Idalia evacuations

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 7:25 PM EDT

      To help speed evacuations ahead of what is expected to be a powerful Hurricane Idalia, the state is lifting tolls at 4 a.m. Tuesday in parts of the state.

      Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he’s directed the Department of Transportation to stop collecting tolls in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Pasco, Pinellas and Sumter counties.

      “You don't need to leave the state. You don't need to drive 100 miles to ride out the storm,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center.

      “If you're in those low-lying areas, the reason why they (local officials) are advising you to evacuate is because you're going to be susceptible to storm surge.”

      DeSantis declares a widespread state of emergency ahead of Idalia's expected landfall

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 7:06 PM EDT
      Chris Day
      Fresh Take Florida

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 counties, a broad swath that stretches across the northern half of the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast. The state has mobilized 1,100 National Guard members, who have 2,400 high-water vehicles and 12 aircraft at their disposal for rescue and recovery efforts.

      Tampa International Airport and St.Pete-Clearwater International Airport said they would close on Tuesday, and the Sunrail commuter rail service in Orlando was being suspended.

      DeSantis warned of a “major impact” to the state, noting the potential for Idalia to become a Category 3 hurricane.

      “The property — we can rebuild someone’s home,” DeSantis said during a news conference Monday. “You can’t unring the bell, though, if somebody stays in harm’s way and does battle with Mother Nature."

      > Read more

      Demand for gas in Florida ahead of Idalia could lead to a shortage, but it would be temporary

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 4:45 PM EDT
      Close-up of gas pump
      Carl Lisciandrello
      WUSF Public Media

      There may be a surge in people rushing to the pumps to top off their gas tanks and fill up on fuel for generators ahead of Idalia, which is projected to reach Florida by Wednesday.

      That run-up in demand can often times leave some gas stations without fuel, but AAA Auto Club spokesman Mark Jenkins said the good news is: it's temporary.

      "As long as the Tampa Port remains open then gasoline will continue sailing into the region. And deliveries will be made until the actual storm itself is passing through, and then that's considered to be unsafe to transport fuel, and most people wouldn't be on the road at that time anyway,” he said. “Then once things were considered to be safe, then deliveries would resume again."

      Jenkins warned against taking anything more than you need because there's still going to be supply after the storm passes.

      He said Idalia is not expected to affect refineries since Florida's suppliers are located along the Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi coastline.

      > Read more

      HART will operate bus lines at emergency level Tuesday; suspend service on Wednesday

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT

      The Hillsborough Transit Authority (HART) plans to stop all bus, van and streetcar service on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, due to possible overnight impacts from Hurricane Idalia.

      Staff will conduct damage assessment, move buses back to the Operations Center from higher ground, check routes for debris and more on Wednesday.

      Some service is planned to be restored on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, if conditions permit.

      HART is operating on an Emergency Service Level on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023.

      • HART service will be free all day on Tuesday
      • Fixed-route bus service will operate from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      • Sunday service level on Route 275LX (UATC to Wiregrass) and Route 360LX (Britton to McDill AFB)
        No service on Route 24LX, Route 25LX, HARTFlex E. Fletcher Zone
      • Reduced frequency on most routes with service every 30 minutes on Routes 1, 6, 400, and 34.
      • HARTFlex service will operate (except the E. Fletcher Ave. zone)
      • No HARTPlus service
      • TECO Line Streetcar service every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

      HART Emergency Service routes and schedules may change during operation hours due to weather, emergency preparation needs, and the safety of staff.
      Hillsborough County Public School buses will transport customers from the following HART facilities to shelters:

      • Netpark Transfer Center - 5003 N 56th St. Tampa, FL 33610
      • Yukon Transfer Center - 401 East Yukon Street, Tampa, FL 33604
      • Northwest Transfer Center - 8951 W Waters Ave, Tampa
      • University Area Transit Center - 13110 N. 27th St., Tampa, FL, 33612

      In addition to the Emergency Service Level, HART will operate “Response Zones” with on-demand service that can be requested through customer service at (813) 254-4278. Response Zones are shown in the map below in areas that are not served by bus service.

      Do you really need sandbags? Hillsborough officials urge residents to be mindful as Idalia nears

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 2:56 PM EDT
      Shovel of a sand pouring into an open bag. County workers holding the equipment.
      Daylina Miller
      WUSF Public Media
      Hillsborough County park officials fill up sandbags in preparation for a storm.

      Sandbag distribution sites are open around the Tampa Bay region as residents brace for Tropical Storm Idalia to approach the area as a hurricane.

      Getting those sandbags can often involve waiting in long lines and a lot of heavy lifting, so Hillsborough County officials are encouraging residents to consider whether they really need the sandbags before showing up.

      The first thing to do is determine your flood zone, said Mikah Collins, program coordinator with the county’s parks and recreation department, who spoke at a sandbag demonstration in Tampa earlier this summer.

      “Are you in an A or B area where you’re really prone to flooding? Then yes, you’re going to need those sandbags,” he said. “If you’re not in an A or B zone you might want to think about doing other preparations to prepare your house because flooding isn’t as likely in that flood zone.”

      > Read more

      'King Tide' could exacerbate storm surge in Tampa, Castor warns

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 2:42 PM EDT
      Jane Castor speaking at a podium
      Gabriella Paul
      WUSF Public Media
      Tampa Mayor Jane Castor discusses preparations for Idalia on Aug. 28, 2023.

      Tampa officials on Monday warned residents that an exceptionally high tide in the Tampa Bay — known as a "King Tide" — is expected to intensify the storm surge threat to the region by Idalia.

      Mayor Jane Castor said the city's stormwater department has been working around the clock to make what preparations they can.

      "Our stormwater department is currently emptying out the ponds that they can, clearing those drains that have been problems in the past, and then also putting water out over the dam," Castor said. "WW should be able to lower the reservoir by about a foot which will be very, very helpful."

      All of the greater Tampa Bay region was under a Storm Surge Warning as of Monday afternoon.

      MAP: View a map of storm surge warning

      Castor addressed residents in downtown Tampa as the city issued a state of emergency.

      "Unfortunately, it's usually September, late September, early October, we started having these conversations," Castor said. "But here we are at the end of August, with our first storm that is going to threaten the Tampa Bay area."

      Castor urged residents to be vigilant and stay prepared.

      The storm is expected to threaten the Tampa Bay region with up to 8 inches of rain and up to 7 feet of storm surge.

      The city of Tampa is bracing for storm-force winds to begin Tuesday afternoon with the most severe storm impacts to start around 9 p.m..

      Castor warned residents that the intensity and the direction of the storm is subject to change.

      Here’s how Tampa residents can get the latest updates:

      • Text ‘TAMPAREADY’ to 888-777
      • Envia TAMPALISTA a 888-777
      • Visit tampa.gov/hurricane
      • Follow @AlertTampa on Twitter (X)
      • Reach Tampa’s hurricane call center at 833-TAMPAINFO

      Residents can also find their evacuation zone and nearest hurricane shelter here.

      Hillsborough issues mandatory evacuations, opens shelters

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 2:28 PM EDT

      Hillsborough County officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A, along with those in mobile and manufactured homes and residents in low-lying areas prone to flooding.

      It went into effect Monday at 2 p.m., according to a news release

      The county is also opening two shelters.

      General Population Shelter (opening at 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted):

      • Hillsborough Community College at The Regent, 6437 Watson Rd., Riverview, FL 33578 (opens at 2 p.m.)
      • 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

      Special Needs Shelter:

      • Erwin Technical, 2010 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, FL 33610 (Pet-friendly)

      Pet-Friendly Shelter:

      • 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.

      Busch Gardens, ZooTampa closing

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 1:30 PM EDT

      Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will close at 3 p.m. Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday. The park plans to reopen on Thursday, August 31.

      ZooTampa will be closed to guests on Tuesday for storm preparations and on Wednesday for projected severe weather. It plans to reopen on Thursday.

      USF, other colleges announce campus closures

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 1:29 PM EDT

      The following colleges and universities announced classes will be canceled:

      • University of South Florida, Tuesday and Wednesday
      • Saint Leo University, Tuesday and Wednesday
      • New College of Florida, Tuesday and Wednesday
      • Pasco-Hernando State College, Tuesday and Wednesday
      • The University of Tampa, Tuesday and Wednesday
      • Eckerd College: Tuesday. All students should take their course materials with them and must be out of their residence halls by 5 p.m. Monday.

      Mandatory evacuations issued for Manatee County

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 1:16 PM EDT

      Manatee County officials announced a mandatory Level A evacuation (including all mobile homes) and a voluntary Evacuation B evacuation effective Monday at 2 p.m.

      "We’re expecting significant storm surge along the barrier islands and coastal communities for Idalia, with the earliest arrival predicted for Tuesday,” said Manatee County Public Safety Director Jodie Fiske in a news release. “This is a very dangerous track that we all need to be aware of.”

      Here are the shelter locations that will be open Monday at 2 p.m.:

      • Virgil Mills Elementary School, 7200 69th Street E. Palmetto 34211 
      • Jesse P. Miller Elementary School, 60143rd St. W, Bradenton 34209 
      • Freedom Elementary School, 9515 FL 64, Bradenton 34212 

      Citizens with special needs who are not registered are encouraged to immediately contact Manatee 3-1-1 and provide their name and phone number.

      Pinellas County is under a state of emergency

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 12:17 PM EDT

      Pinellas County is under a local state of emergency ahead of Idalia. As it grows stronger, county officials are warning of potentially life-threatening storm surge.

      Mandatory evacuations of county residents who live in Zone A and mobile home parks got underway Monday at seven.

      Pinellas County said those evacuating should move to higher ground beyond Zone B, in case conditions get worse.

      If you are counting on public transportation in Pinellas County, you should know PSTA is going to stop running at five p.m. Tuesday.

      Emergency Manager Cathie Perkins said just because you may have seen the storm cones shift, remember, it doesn't show the whole story.

      "The outer bands extend much further out, we are still expecting storm surge in our area, we are still expecting Tropical Storm force and perhaps some hurricane force winds here in Pinellas County," she said.

      Perkins said the highest storm surge is expected Wednesday morning. And it may bring flooding like what was seen with Hurricane Eta, where about one-thousand homes got two inches of water inside, and others saw significant damage.

      The county has a nearly 100 percent probability of getting tropical storm force winds. And on top of what could be a four-to-seven-foot storm surge, six to ten inches of rain are expected.

      Spokesman David Connor said now is the time to clear your yard of chairs and other things that can get blown around.

      He also said if you are ordered to evacuate, you should do so quickly.

      “Zone A, for example, so that's you know, closest to the water. There's about 130-thousand people in Zone A, so if a Zone A evacuation is ordered, it can take up to 17 hours to complete that evacuation. If you are in an evacuation zone and you hear that order comes through, we advise that you act on it early,” he said.

      You can find your evacuation zone and more details at disaster.pinellas.gov.

      Perkins also said people should sign up for "Alert Pinellas," or get the "Ready Pinellas" app for the latest updates.

      Tampa International Airport is suspending flights

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 11:53 AM EDT

      Tampa International Airport announced it will suspend all commercial flights beginning Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.

      The airport will remain closed "until it can assess any damages later in the week," according to a news release.

      Some cargo and private aircraft operations could continue overnight, but all air traffic will cease by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the release.

      Airport officials say the closure will allow workers to secure the jet bridges, ground equipment, and other remaining aircraft.

      The main terminal and airsides will be closed to all visitors.

      Airport officials say they expect the airport to reopen Thursday morning.

      MacDill Air Force Base orders a mandatory Zone A evacuation

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT

      MacDill Air Force Base issued a mandatory Zone A evacuation order at its premises this morning, according to their Facebook account.

      The evacuation, ordered by base commander Colonel Adam Bingham, is set to finish by Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. It was directed toward non-mission essential individuals and their dependents living in Evacuation Zone A of Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties. This includes uniformed service members, civilian employees and their dependents. Those evacuating have been authorized to travel for up to a 350-mile radius.

      To ensure mission-essential personnel are available for base preparations, military members and base civilian employees must get approval to leave, according to the post. Unit commanders will release non-mission essential personnel as soon as possible Tuesday. Dependents and civilians are cleared to leave Zone A immediately.

      Evacuation orders issued for Pasco, Hernando and Citrus

      Updated August 28, 2023 at 12:29 PM EDT
      Posted August 28, 2023 at 10:22 AM EDT
      Men speaking at a press conference
      Hernando County Emergency Management
      David DeCarlo, director of Hernando County Emergency Management, speaks at a news conference on Idalia.

      Evacuation orders have been issued for Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

      Pasco County:

      A mandatory evacuation will be ordered for certain areas.

      The mandatory evacuation will be in place if:

      • 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 

      Officials recommend evacuations if one or more of the following applies:

      • 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

      You can find your evacuation zone here. More information from Pasco County Emergency Management can be found here.

      Hernando County:

      The evacuation order for coastal Hernando will become mandatory Tuesday.

      Everyone living west of U.S. Highway 19 is being asked to leave their homes. That includes residents of evacuation zones A, B and C, and all residents living in coastal and low-lying areas - as well as manufactured homes throughout the entire county.

      You can find your evacuation zone and a flood zone map here.

      Citrus County:

      A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for all of those in Zone A, which encompasses areas west of U.S. Highway 19 and portions east of 19.

      There is also a voluntary evacuation ordered countywide for those living in mobile homes, campers, recreational vehicles, tents, and structures not capable of handling Category 3 winds.

      You can find your evacuation zone and a flood zone map here.

      Hillsborough, Pasco, Sarasota announce school closings

      Updated August 28, 2023 at 1:09 PM EDT
      Posted August 28, 2023 at 10:10 AM EDT

      Hillsborough, Pasco and Sarasota counties announced school will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

      Some schools in each county will be activated as storm shelters to house evacuees living in flood zones.

      All after-school programs will be suspended as well.

      Early prescription refills available

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 7:20 AM EDT

      Florida residents can fill their prescriptions early as part of the state of emergency Gov. Ron DeSantis issued over the weekend.

      The Florida Department of Health is working with emergency managers statewide to prepare for any impacts to communities. It's reminding Floridians to have enough of their prescriptions on hand in the event pharmacies are temporarily unavailable.

      Floridians are permitted to receive early prescription refills regardless of typical limits.

      Details can be found here.

      Tax-free hurricane preparation

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 6:40 AM EDT

      Florida’s second Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday runs through Friday, Sept. 8.

      It allows Florida residents to save on hurricane preparedness supplies.

      Consumers can purchase qualifying supplies, including dog or cat food, ice, generators, radios and more.

      Here's a list of items that can be purchased tax-free.

      Pasco-Hernando State College closing Tuesday and Wednesday

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:53 AM EDT

      Classes at Pasco-Hernando State College will take place Monday, but campuses will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Classes are expected to resume on Thursday.

      Citrus County schools closing

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:50 AM EDT

      Schools in Citrus County will be open on a half-day Monday and closed Tuesday and Wednesday, as emergency officials have mandated schools be used as shelters.

      All after-school programs and extra-curricular activities are cancelled beginning Monday afternoon until further notice.

      DeSantis returns to Florida

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:45 AM EDT
      Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a Fair-Side Chat at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis said Saturday, Aug 26, 2023, in a post on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, that he has directed state emergency officials begin preparations for a storm.
      Jeff Roberson
      Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a Fair-Side Chat at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis said Saturday, Aug 26, 2023, in a post on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, that he has directed state emergency officials begin preparations for a storm.

      Crises at home pose a new test for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose presidential campaign travels are now up in the air as his state mourns a racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville and prepares for a tropical storm.

      A day after appearing in Iowa, DeSantis was back in the state capital of Tallahassee on Sunday for a news conference on Tropical Storm Idalia. He urged Floridians to heed the advice of emergency managers. He also offered condolences and condemned the killing of three Black people by a white man who authorities say left behind a suicide note, a will, and writings with racist material.

      DeSantis’ campaign schedule had called for him to be in South Carolina Monday for a town hall in Kershaw and a barbecue with Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., in Anderson. It was not immediately clear where he would go forward with those appearances.

      Asked whether he would be in Florida this week, DeSantis responded, “I’m here. I’m here.”

      > Read more

      Voluntary evacuations in Hernando, Citrus

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:41 AM EDT

      Hernando County has announced a voluntary evacuation for all areas west of U.S. 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.

      Meanwhile, Citrus County is urging all citizens and businesses to make preparations. Residents living in campers, recreational vehicles, tents, other structures unable to withstand the winds of a tropical storm, or along the west side of U.S. Highway 19, are advised to voluntarily evacuate.

      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 12 p.m. Monday, August 28, 2023 at:

      West Hernando Middle School - Special Needs
      14325 Ken Austin Pkwy., Brooksville

      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 at 352-754-4083 starting at 8 a.m. Monday to arrange pick-up.

      D. S. Parrott Middle School - General Population and Pet Friendly
      19220 Youth Dr., Brooksville

      Sandbag locations open across Tampa Bay

      Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:27 AM EDT

      Some counties and cities are opening sandbag locations.

      This includes Tampa, which has opened three sandbag distribution sites:

      • Himes Avenue Complex 4501 S. Himes Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611
      • Al Barnes Park 2902 N. 32nd Street, Tampa, FL 33605
      • MacFarlane Park 1700 N MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33607 (Site between Maxwell and Renfrew)

      The sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.
      People must show identification verifying residence within the city limits. There is a 10 bag limit.

      Here are the other sandbag locations that are open across the region.