Ken Welch asks residents to shelter in place tonight, set to assess damage in morning

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'We want to ask you to shelter in place, as the worst parts of Hurricane Ian are still yet before us,' Welch said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch is urging residents to shelter in place through the night, with the worst of Hurricane Ian expected to hit Tampa Bay throughout the evening.

Welch told reporters Wednesday afternoon the area will experience tropical storm-force winds and rainfall, as well as widespread power outages.

“We want to ask you to shelter in place, as the worst parts of Hurricane Ian are still yet before us,” Welch said. “We ask you to stay at home, and to stay safe tonight.”

Welch said at daybreak on Thursday, St. Pete first responders will assess the damage, including fallen trees and downed power lines. They will work to clear roads and restore power. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 125,000 Tampa Bay area residents are without power, and that number is expected to grow.

Pinellas County officials have ordered residents to shelter in place, emphasizing that breaks in the weather do not mean the storm has passed. There are about 4,500 residents in Pinellas County public shelters. Hillsborough County officials are also urging residents not to relocate to a Hillsborough County emergency shelter or any other location. There are more than 6,500 individuals in shelters across Hillsborough County.

Hurricane Ian is currently pummeling areas just south of Tampa Bay, with the Naples to Sarasota region at “highest risk” of a devastating storm surge. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor told reporters Wednesday morning she spoke with Mayors of Fort Myers, Sarasota, Punta Gorda and Naples to offer resources for communities impacted by the storm, which was previously expected to directly pummel the Tampa Bay area earlier this week

Here are some tips on how to stay safe through the storm:

— If you experience an emergency, call 911 and report the issue. Emergency crews will respond as soon as it is safe to do so.

— If there is a need to take cover, find an interior room away from windows and skylights. Bring water into your safe room if you cannot exit due to storm debris.

— Do not walk in floodwater. It only takes six inches of fast-flowing water to sweep you off your feet, and one foot of floodwater can carry away cars.

— If flooding is a threat, turn off electricity at the main breaker.

— After the storm, begin taking steps to reduce flood damage to your home, such as cleaning or removing wet items to reduce mold and contact with chemicals or sewage.

— Keep cellphones and electronic devices charged in case of power loss. Checking in with family through texting or social media can be more reliable than phone service.

— In case of electricity loss, flashlights or chemical sticks are safer than candles.

— Keep storm shutters and windows closed until the storm has completely passed.

— Once storm conditions subside, do not leave your home until officials announce that it is safe.

— Do not set objects of any type on the stove while the power is out.

— Keep generators in well-ventilated locations outside, away from all doors, windows and vent openings. Do not operate during high winds and rain. Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.

— Place generators so the exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.

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].


  • Tom

    September 28, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Kite surfing and parasailing is gonna be the best it’s ever been all over Florida for the next few days. Gonna be some epic viral social media footage. Don’t miss your chance to cash in. You could be famous.

    • Hope

      September 28, 2022 at 11:12 pm

      I just saw Charlie Crist parasailing over my house and judging from the speed he was traveling he should be approaching Africa shortly. I know it was him because he dropped his flip-flops.

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