JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis issued state of emergency orders Friday for all counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast -- from the Keys to Nassau County -- as Hurricane Isaias drenched the Bahamas and remained on a track for at least a brush with Florida.
“Florida is fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” DeSantis said Friday morning from the state’s Emergency Operations Center, where there are stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.
He urged people to have seven days with of food, water and medication ready and said that state-run coronavirus testing sites in the areas where the storm could hit will be closed.
“Our sites, because they’re outdoors with tents, if it were to get 40-, 50-mile-per-hour winds, it would just collapse,” he said. “Safety is paramount for that.”
Officials began closing beaches, marinas and parks in Miami-Dade County as of Friday night. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county has 20 evacuation centers on standby that could be set up with COVID-19 safety measures.
“We still don’t think there is a need to open shelters for this storm but they are ready,” he said.
Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph on Friday and it was expected to remain a hurricane through Sunday as it moves north along or just off the Florida coast according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The Hurricane Center said heavy rains associated with the storm “may begin to affect South and east-Central Florida beginning late Friday night, and the eastern Carolinas by early next week, potentially resulting in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas.‘'
Friday evening, a hurricane warning was in effect from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 150 miles north to the Volusia/Brevard County Line. A tropical storm watch and high surf advisory was in force for Flagler and St. Johns County, which will likely increase to cover Duval and Nassau counties as the storm moves north.
In Daytona Beach and Flagler County authorities began distributing sandbags and other officials advised people to prepare three days to a week of emergency provisions at home.
In Florida late Friday, President Donald Trump said he had complete confidence in DeSantis and the federal government would help if needed.
“We will do whatever is necessary to help Florida. I guess it is going to be a pretty rough storm,” Trump said.