Gov. DeSantis: Hurricane Ian is ‘real deal,’ ‘knocking on door of Category 5 storm’

Gov. DeSantis speaks in Tallahassee about the approach of Hurricane Ian. (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Calling Hurricane Ian the “real deal” as he urged Floridians in the storm’s immediate path to “hunker down” Wednesday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the powerful Category 4 storm had wind speeds of 155 mph, which was “knocking on the door of a Category 5″ (starts at 157 mph).

Hurricane Ian continued to move toward landfall on the Florida mainland and is expected to cause catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding on the Florida Peninsula Wednesday.

DeSantis said the storm will cause widespread power outages across the state, along with likely damage to infrastructure.

“Do what you need to do to stay safe,” he said, urging residents in the immediate path along the Gulf Coast to treat the storm like a tornado because it is too late for them to evacuate. “If you’re out on the roads get to a safe place as soon as possible.”

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Evacuations have been ordered in several Northeast Florida counties as of Wednesday morning, including Clay, St. Johns, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam.

DeSantis implored residents not to go outside in the eye of the storm because that is still a dangerous time.

“You think maybe the storm has passed. That’s not the case. It’s still very dangerous. There are possibilities of tornadoes. It would also be very difficult to potentially get back into your home. So even if it seems calm wait to make sure that the storm has actually passed,” DeSantis said.

He said once the storm has blown through, be careful of downed power lines, standing water and damaged trees.

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“If you are using a generator for power, make sure that that is being operated outside your home. Do not operate that indoors,” he said. “And then don’t drive in flooded streets. People will look and think they can drive through it, and it doesn’t work out well for them.”

DeSantis and other state leaders called the mobilization of resources for Hurricane Ian the largest the state has ever seen.

“The assets that we have are unprecedented in the state’s history,” DeSantis said. “And, unfortunately, they’re gonna need to be deployed because this is a really, really significant storm.”

The governor said 30,000 linemen are staged and ready for power restoration efforts across the state, including many from other states. There are also 5,000 Florida guardsmen activated, along with 2,000 from neighboring states.

DeSantis warned that those on the Gulf Coast getting the brunt of Ian’s force Wednesday will not be the only ones to be impacted by the massive, powerful storm.

“It’s going to have a major impact across the center portion of the state and even with the projected exit of the state in Volusia County, because of what it’s going to do when it gets into the Atlantic, you’re going to see impacts all the way up to Nassau County and Duval County absolutely in terms of some of the flooding and some of the other things that you will see because of the effects of this so there will be significant effects and you will absolutely see trees (down), you will see power interruptions and you will see a lot of rain and water,” DeSantis said.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.