Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for thousands of residents in Florida ahead of Hurricane Michael, which will make landfall along the Gulf Coast Wednesday as a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. It’s forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades and it will send life-threatening surges of ocean water into coastal areas along the Gulf.
Hurricane Michael is currently a Category 2 storm, with maximum winds topping 100 mph. Just before 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, it was 365 miles south of Apalachicola, Fla., moving north-northwest at 12 mph with sustained winds of 90 mph.
The NHC says some coastal regions can expect 8 to 12 feet of storm surge — a flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water after rainfall.
An evacuation was issued on Monday for Bay County, Florida, and will affect around one hundred and twenty thousand residents throughout Panama City Beach, Panama City, and Lynn Haven.
Sheriff Tommy Ford sent a direct warning to affected residents, saying, “We’ve practiced this many times. This is game time. This is the real thing. This is a significant threat to life and safety. People need to start leaving now. The roads are going to get more and more congested as time goes on.”
President Trump has committed to providing any federal resources Florida may need, according to Scott. “As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions,” Trump said on Monday. “It looks like another big one.”
FEMA is already on Floridian ground, providing assistance in the form of the EPA, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services and the Army Corps of Engineers.