‘The stakes are high’: Hillsborough Co. officials expand mandatory evacuation order

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The new order will affect about 90K additional residents.

Hillsborough County officials have expanded its mandatory evacuation order to Zone B in preparation for Hurricane Ian.

Zone B extends into areas of South Tampa, Westchase and Town’n’Country, and the new order will affect about 90,000 additional residents, Hillsborough County administrator Bonnie Wise said at a press conference Tuesday. The order will take effect at noon Tuesday.

The county issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which wraps around the coast of the bay, on Monday. Zone A also includes all mobile or manufactured homes and those in low-lying areas. All residents in Zone A must be evacuated by 9 p.m., Wise said. Evacuation zones can be found here.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of heeding our evacuation orders. We are here to protect you and your family, and it is in your best interest to evacuate if you live in these specific areas,” Wise said. “Remember, you don’t need to go to a shelter. Ask a relative, a friend, a co-worker who lives inland if you could stay with them.”

Officials expect the mandatory evacuations to affect about 390,000 residents between Zone A and Zone B. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will operate in the mandatory evacuation zones fair-free, Wise said.

“I want you to know that you are not facing this alone. We are in this together. We will get through this together. Please stay safe,” Wise said.

The county has opened more than 45 emergency evacuation shelters, said Hillsborough County’s emergency management director Tim Dudley. Currently, more than 600 individuals and several pets are checked in to the county shelters, but officials expect a “dramatic increase” in residents seeking shelters Tuesday.

“I want everyone to know that our team is ready. They’re locked in and focused. They know the stakes are high and that the residents are very concerned. Our job is to protect you before, during and after the storm,” Dudley said.

The county has already distributed more than 64,000 sandbags, and is continuing to mobilize resources at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Dudley said. In anticipation of the storm, Tampa Electric has called in thousands of line workers from across the country to come and help restore power after the storm.

“It’s been 101 years since the Tampa Bay has experienced a storm of this magnitude,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who is urging residents to get to safety.  “The County Administrator does not make these decisions lightly. These decisions are focused on public safety and the preservation of life.”

The storm is expected to grow into a Category 4 hurricane before landfall.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Ian’s center was over Cuba, 200 miles south of Key West, with sustained winds of 125 mph, making it a Category 3 storm.

The large range of predicted surge is because forecasters are still uncertain where Ian’s center will be when the storm passes Tampa Bay, Jamie Rhome, the acting Hurricane Center director, said in a video posted late Monday morning.

Mike Clay, a meteorologist at Spectrum Bay News 9, said a front coming from the Gulf of Mexico may push Ian slightly east sooner. Ian’s exact location will determine the amount of storm surge in the Tampa Bay region.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Tom

    September 27, 2022 at 11:18 am

    Tropical 3 ocean whirlwind inbound. Good time to take the jet ski out. Would make an epic viral moment. I’m gonna be rich.

  • Tjb

    September 27, 2022 at 11:54 am

    Governor DeSantis,
    Hurricane heading toward home. Help is urgently needed.
    I can’t find property insurance. Need help now. One company offer me insurance at double what I paid last year, but as yesterday they dropped out of the Florida market. Help me Ron

Comments are closed.


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