A Growing Hurricane Idalia Veers West, Now Targeting Tallahassee

A satellite image of Hurricane Idalia at 9pm ET on August 29, 2023

August 29, 2023 PM Update Hurricane Idalia has intensified to a Category 2 storm and shifted westward, with its landfall and impacts now further north, on a course toward Tallahassee and the coastal counties of Jefferson and Wakulla.  “This is crunch time right now.  We’re going to get hit with a major hurricane,” Governor DeSantis said at a 6pm briefing tonight at the state Emergency Operations Center.   Idalia is expected to grow to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm (sustained winds of 130-156 mph) according to the National Hurricane Center before it makes landfall around 10am tomorrow (Wednesday).  “If this storm hits at high tide, storm surge could reach 10 to 15 feet in some areas of the Big Bend.  That is life threatening storm surge.  That is storm surge that if you’re there while that hits, it’s going to be very difficult to survive that,” the Governor warned.  Water that high would submerge the entire first floor of a house along the coast.  He urged residents to prepare for the storm and for those in evacuation zones, to evacuate now, while there’s still time.  He said first responders won’t be able to help anyone until after the storm passes.  Also, bridges and causeways will be closed once winds reach 40 mph or greater to ensure safe passage.

The National Weather Service tonight predicts Idalia will be the strongest storm ever to hit Tallahassee.  The news that Idalia is not taking a more northeast track as predicted is disappointing for those of us who live in the Capitol city of Tallahassee, greater Leon County, and our friends and neighbors with properties along the coast of Wakulla County.  It’s also disappointing to property insurance companies, for this part of Florida has much more development and population than rural Taylor and Dixie counties where Idalia was previously predicted to make landfall.  Tallahassee is a heavily treed city, just 30 miles from the coast, and there is fear that the predicted hurricane-force winds hitting inland will fell many trees and create power outages that could last days or even weeks.

As of 8pm this evening, Idalia was located about 100 miles off the coast of Sarasota moving north near 16 mph.  Maximum-sustained winds have increased to near 105 mph with higher gusts.  Additional strengthening is forecast and Idalia is expected to become a major hurricane.  Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles!  Rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches from tonight into Thursday are forecast with isolated higher totals of 12 inches are possible, primarily near landfall in northern Florida.

A northward to north-northeastward motion is expected through tonight, with Idalia’s center forecast to reach the Big Bend coast of Florida on Wednesday morning.  After landfall, the center of Idalia is forecast to turn toward the northeast and cross into Georgia and the Carolinas.   Its impacts are already being felt in Southwest Florida, with heavy rain and expected storm surge of 2-4 feet in coastal areas such as Sanibel Island in Lee County.  Those impacts are expected along the entire Gulf Coast of Florida tonight and through tomorrow.

Current Warnings/Watches as of 8pm:

Hurricane Warning from the middle of Long Boat Key northward to Cape San Blas, including Tampa Bay, including the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, coastal Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Manatee, western Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Suwanee, Taylor, Union, and Wakulla counties.
Hurricane Watch
from the mouth of the St. Mary’s River to Edisto Beach South Carolina.
Tropical Storm Warning from Chokoloskee northward to the middle of Longboat Key; from west of Indian Pass to Mexico Beach; and on the East Coast from Sebastian Inlet, Florida northward to Surf City, North Carolina, including the following counties: Gulf, Liberty, Gadsden, Nassau, Duval, Union, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, central Marion, eastern Marion, Volusia, Lake, Seminole, Orange, Brevard, Osceola, Polk, Hardee, Desoto, Sarasota, Charlotte, coastal Collier, Lee, as well as the Dry Tortugas. 
Tropical Storm Watch from the Lower Florida Keys west of the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge; North of Surf City North Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border; and the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
Storm Surge Warning for the Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota County border to the Franklin/Gulf County border, including Tampa Bay.
Storm Surge Watch along the Gulf Coast from Englewood (Charlotte/Sarasota border) to Bonita Beach (Collier/Lee border), including Charlotte Harbor.

Storm surge of 10-15 feet from the Aucilla River in Jefferson County south to Yankeetown in Citrus County is forecast.  This is a dangerous and life-threatening surge, especially for people and buildings in low-lying coastal areas along that part of the Gulf of Mexico.  Water that high would submerge the entire first floor of a house along the coast.

Evacuations: A total of 28 counties as of this evening have issued some form of evacuation orders, many of them mandatory for those living along the coast or inland waters and bays.  See the complete list of evacuation orders.  Schools in the impacted counties have suspended classes tomorrow into Thursday for now, as many will serve as evacuation shelters.  Taylor County authorities report there are some coastal residents who are not heeding the order to evacuate.  The state Division of Emergency Management has asked all county emergency managers to note addresses of their residents who refuse evacuation so that search and rescue operators after the storm will know where to check first to offer assistance. 

The Governor today extended the state of emergency declaration from 46 to 49 counties to include more of north and north-central Florida, as Idalia’s forecast track takes it across the state and into Georgia and the Carolinas.  The Governor reminded residents tonight that “you don’t need to travel hundreds of miles away.  You don’t need to outrun the storm.  Just get to higher ground in a safe shelter that can be a friend’s home, or a hotel.”  Tolls have been suspended on major highways along Florida’s west coast.  Florida’s 511 Traveler Information System is available for drivers to stay informed about roadway conditions during emergencies. 

Shelters: More than 50 shelters have been opened so far in effected areas to house evacuees.  At least one shelter in each county allows pets.  The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has made arrangements for most hotels to allow pets during this emergency.  Uber announced it will be offering free roundtrip rides to shelters up to a value of $35 for those using code IdaliaRelief on the Uber app. 

Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie at a hurricane briefing

Disaster Management: Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said his agency has coordinated 400 active missions to get needed help and supplies to those 49 counties that need it before the storm.  There’s 1.1 million gallons of fuel that has been staged and is ready to deploy.  They’ve also deployed almost 250 Starlink internet devices, with another 500 staged and ready to go, for communities that lose internet service.  They’ve also called-up 33 Ambulance strike teams with over 200 ambulances that are ready to surge in any of the impacted areas.   

The Governor has mobilized 5,500 National Guard members and a fleet of 2,400 high-water rescue vehicles and 12 aircraft in any rescue and recovery efforts.  All eight urban search and rescue teams with almost 600 personnel are standing by to deploy.  They’re joined by national guardsmen from Tennessee and South Carolina.  The state has called up 33 Ambulance strike teams with more than 200 ambulances that are ready to surge in any of the impacted areas.

Guthrie said areas of South Fort Myers Beach, which suffered a massive 10 foot storm surge from Hurricane Ian, have again experienced surge and flooding as Idalia passed today.  He promised there would be help arriving in the morning for those coastal communities.  He also noted again that storm surge was the number one cause of deaths in Hurricane Ian and that “Idalia’s expected 10-15 feet of storm surge is 3 feet higher than what was predicted for Ian.”  Guthrie has launched the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) for those in Florida to receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Idalia, which can accommodate English, Spanish and Haitian Creole speakers.  Residents can call the SAIL hotline at 1-800-342-3557.

Infrastructure Update: The Governor has also repeatedly warned Floridians to expect to lose power in the storm.  Tampa Electric and Duke Energy, which serves many communities on the Central West Coast, said they’ve been staging thousands of workers in and just outside of Florida, ready to repair any outages.  The Florida Municipal Electric Association likewise said more than 30 member utilities from across the Southeast and Midwest are providing mutual assistance in staging nearby.  In all, the Governor tonight said close to 30,000 personnel are ready to assist in power restoration.

Insurance Claims: The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) issued Informational Memorandum OIR-23-05M to all authorized residential property insurers to provide guidance on hurricane preparedness and response.  The Memorandum covers claims handling requirements, maintaining records, and fines that OIR may levy for violations.  OIR has directed insurers to review all aspects of their disaster preparedness and response plans to ensure they’re in compliance with Florida law.

I’ve been working with news media throughout this event as I’ve done with past storms.  I always stress for residents to “Know Your Zone” and go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/know where they will be able to type in their home address to find out which flood evacuation zone they are in.  Those not living in an evacuation zone and lacking a specific local evacuation order in this storm, can consider sheltering in place.  Also, remember to listen to your local emergency manager as they are in the best position to know the true risks to your community.  My tips for before and after the storm can be found in my Hurricane Idalia Insurance Claims Tips guide.   It’s part of my work as a policy advisor to the Disaster Recovery Coalition of America.

For those reading this Hurricane Update who want to help those impacted by the storm, the Florida Disaster Fund was reactivated today.  The fund is a component of the Volunteer Florida Foundation, Florida’s official 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports volunteerism, community service, and disaster recovery.  To donate, click here

Click here for the full National Hurricane Center briefing with maps.  Visit FloridaDisaster.org/Updates for the very latest state disaster management information.  You can also review our past Hurricane Updates and subscribe to receive future updates in your inbox.

Please know that we at Lisa Miller & Associates are here 24/7 for you.  It may sound trite but we are all in this together, my friends and colleagues.  Please prepare and be aware!

Lisa & the LMA team

(Here’s the latest news from the Governor’s Office on specific state preparedness actions and a list of mobilized resources:)

State Preparedness Efforts

  • FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Idalia response.
  • FDEM is mobilizing requested resources to support residents and first responders in the path of the storm, including more than 100 pallets of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), nearly 500 pallets of bottled water, and more than 20 pallets of tarps.
  • The Florida National Guard (FLNG) has been fully activated, with a mobilization of 3,700 guardsmen in position across the state for preparedness and response efforts. An additional 1,800 guardsmen are on the way bringing the total to 5,500 prior to the storm landing.
  • The Florida National Guard currently has:
    • 2400 vehicles to include high mobility and high-water vehicles, 
    • 14 FLARNG helicopters strategically placed around the state and that number could double with assistance from neighboring states,
    • 23 small watercrafts ready to support search and rescue, and reconnaissance missions.  
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has activated the State Emergency Operations Center Team to support ongoing operations. FDLE has prepared:
  • One mobile command vehicle;
  • One operations command center;
  • Six mobile staging units;
  • 80 agents and analysts ready to deploy;
  • Three large trailers;
  • Four box trailers;
  • Two cargo trucks;
  • One forklift;
  • 24 generators and,
  • 30 chainsaws.
  • FDLE mutual aid team is coordinating Florida’s law enforcement response with 25 missions including helping with evacuation and pre-staging resources.
  • Regional law enforcement coordination teams (RLECTs) are activated in impacted regions to assist local law enforcement agencies ahead of the storm. 
  • FDLE’s Criminal Justice Information Services received permission from the FBI to allow law enforcement agencies to perform criminal history queries on behalf of emergency shelters to determine suitability of shelter staff who may care for vulnerable populations (children, the elderly, the disabled).
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has readied all storm response resources statewide so they may be rapidly deployed to assist Floridians in need in the event of damage or flooding due to Hurricane Idalia. Contingency plans based on forecasted landfall locations have been developed and are flexible based on the storm’s projected path.
  • Two rapid response teams consisting of officers, support staff and equipment have staged in locations just outside the projected path for immediate deployment following Hurricane Idalia’s exit from the impact zone. These teams consist of assets outside the immediate impact area. The teams have of a total of 47 officers and support personnel and the following equipment:
    • 47 four-wheel drive vehicles
    • 15 vessels including airboats and shallow draft vessels
    • 9 UTV/ATVs
    • 1 UAS (drone) unit
    • 4 swamp buggies
    • 2 supply trailers
    • 1 command trailer
    • 4 BERG units
    • 4 hygiene trailers
    • 1 water trailer
    • multiple generators
    • mobile communications equipment
    • fuel resupply containers
  • FWC Officers will respond with a variety of specialized equipment as necessary, including:
    • Shallow draft boats; 
    • Larger platform vessels; 
    • ATVs; 
    • Airboats; and  
    • Four-wheel drive vehicles. 
  • These assets are in addition to local FWC officers deployed to potentially affected areas. 
  • A supplemental support team of 15 additional officers and equipment has been identified to provide immediate assistance to the rapid response team if necessary.
  • FWC Special Operations Group (SOG) teams will serve as reconnaissance units for the State EOC and report back on damage after the storm has made landfall. 
  • FWC Aviation Section has been placed on standby and has readied all appropriate aircraft for potential deployment for EOC aerial assistance, reconnaissance, and post-storm damage assessments when needed.
  • The FWC has issued pre-storm messaging to vessel owners to secure boats ahead of severe weather and set up a hotline (888-404-3922) to report vessels lost, displaced or rendered derelict as a result of the storm.
  • FWC captive wildlife investigators have made contact with all captive wildlife facilities in the storm’s projected path and reviewed contingency plans with facility owners for the impending severe weather. A team of 6 captive wildlife investigators has staged just outside the storm’s path to conduct assessments of Class I captive wildlife facilities following the storm.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol has 300 troopers ready to deploy and implemented 12-hour Alpha, Bravo shifts in troops B, C, D, G, H, I, J and K in preparation for Hurricane Idalia in order to provide resources to impacted areas. This activation has resulted in regular days off being cancelled and 24-Hour enhanced coverage.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has completed pre-storm beach surveys in all shoreline counties.
  • All significant hazardous waste facilities in potentially affected counties are being contacted to ensure all pre-storm preparations are being made.
  • DEP has requested a fuel waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily adjust certain regulatory requirements to ensure a sustained, useable fuel supply. 
  • All Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) Correctional Institutions have back-up power generators in the event commercial power is lost. 

Health and Human Services

  • The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has submitted the federal waiver request for early release of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This will expedite the receipt of benefits for those scheduled to receive food assistance during the first half of the month in September.
  • DCF’s Mass Care unit is working with the American Red Cross and feeding partners to assess shelter needs and get updated inventory information for food on hand for distribution. 
  • DCF is assessing the need for utilization of the crisis counseling program and deployment of crisis counseling teams to support area resiliency.
  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics stands ready to coordinate with wholesale distributors of prescription drugs and medical gas to ensure an uninterrupted supply for potential impacted residents.
  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is supporting 14 special needs shelters, which are accepting clients, in the following counties: Marion, Citrus, Hernando, Pinellas, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Alachua, and Volusia. Additional special needs shelters are on standby as the storm approaches. For assistance regarding special needs shelters, contact your local emergency manager. 
  • DOH has staged 33 strike teams, totaling 165 ambulances, for any facility evacuations or patient transport needs. Staging is currently in Marianna and Lakeland. An additional 200 ambulances have been requested.  
  • DOH has provided additional supplies of special infant formula to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clients in need. 
  • DOH met with Epilepsy Services Program Providers to open lines of communication if their clients, epilepsy patients, or persons with disabilities need resources during and after the storm.
  • The DOH and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) sent information regarding early prescription refills permitted under Executive Order 23-171. This information was sent to the public, health insurers, managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacy chains, and health care providers.
  • DOH remains in contact with Medical Foster Care (MFC) families to ensure services and needs are met. 
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is pulling reports utilizing newly developed GIS software that includes information from residential providers and hospitals in counties under the State of Emergency. 
  • AHCA sent a Medicaid Provider Alert outlining Key Medicaid Information for Fee-For-Service and Managed Care Providers during Hurricane Idalia, this can be found here.
  • AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS).  Special needs shelters are able to utilize the system to retrieve patient medical records. E-PLUS is also available to assist medical providers and emergency response personnel with locating missing or displaced persons after the storm.
    • AHCA has contacted the Department of Health for inputting shelter registration information into E-PLUS system as special need shelters begin opening.
    • Digital Services has been credentialed access to the E-PLUS Missing Persons tool to assist them in getting information about individual locations at healthcare facilities
  • AHCA partnered with Florida Health Care Association and Florida Hospital Association to initiate statewide calls with long term care facilities and hospitals.
  • 100% of operating long-term care facilities have a generator on-site. The Generator Status Map for long-term care facilities is available here.
  • AHCA opened an event in the Health Facility Reporting System ahead of any potential impacts. All Residential/Inpatient Health Care Providers must submit updates on census, bed availability, evacuation and receiving status, power outages and generator status by 10AM daily and when a situation changes. This has been put in place for all 67 counties.
  • AHCA has contacted the Medicaid Managed Care Plans, to ensure they are taking the necessary preparations for the storm, including allowing for early prescription refills. Fee-for-service recipients are also eligible for early refills.
  • AHCA Secretary Jason Weida has spoken with the CEOs of all hospitals that are evacuating, the CEOs of all Associations for Residential and Inpatient Health Care facilities, and the CEOs of all managed care plans to ensure lines of communication are open and we are working together.
  • AHCA staff has made over 505 calls and counting, in a coordinated outreach effort to all residential health care providers in the cone of the hurricane, along the coastlines, in mandatory evacuation zones, and those who have not updated HFRS.
  • The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), based on the Governor’s Executive Order, has mapped out the locations and current census of APD clients and residents located in potentially affected areas.
  • APD initiated and established daily partner calls to effectively provide and receive information to proactively respond and anticipate future needs. Partners include:
    • Arc of Florida 
    • Florida Association of Rehabilitative Facilities 
    • Florida Developmental Disabilities Council 
    • Waiver Support Coordinator Associations  
    • Family Care Council Chairs 
  • APD Disseminated and collected daily situation reports throughout the state to capture data related to APD client, provider and group home current state and activities including census, staffing, site readiness, emerging situations, and unmet needs.
    • No reports of unmet needs.
    • APD team working to complete direct outreach with remaining clients and group homes
  • APD conducted a site visit to the Developmental Disability Center (Tacachale) located in Gainesville, FL to support the team and ensure facility readiness.  
  • WaterTracker is active, DEP’s online portal for drinking and wastewater facilities to report their operational status. 
  • Walgreens has four mobile pharmacies positioned ready to deploy along with additional generators and are prepared to provide mobile pharmacy services for shelters.
  • The Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is receiving daily updates from all 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout Florida.
  • ElderSource (PSA 4, Jacksonville) has provided the following updates:
    • St. Johns Council on Aging will close on Wednesday and Thursday.  Nutrition Services will send extra meals out tomorrow for those closures with the home-delivered meals. Their Independent Living Services and Programs departments are calling participants to check on them and also to see if they need transportation to a hurricane shelter.  They will be called again once the storm passes.
    • Flagler County Senior Services: Flagler has activated the EOC, Senior services staff are working 12-hour shifts at the EOC. Home delivered meals are still scheduled for today, so all home delivered meals will be going out today as scheduled. Call downs to clients were completed.  The Senior Center will be closed on Wednesday as of right now.
  • The Office of Public and Professional Guardians (OPPG) Director spoke with more Executive Directors today to confirm that those with wards who are being evacuated are being moved to a safe place. For those being evacuated, the programs followed up with the receiving facility to make sure there is still capacity and that the wards have been received.

Infrastructure, Roads and State Closures

  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) continues to complete assessments of the fuel supplies as locations reported by CITGO to determine the severity of contaminated fuel within on-site tanks. Based on these assessments, FDACS will determine the types of fuel that is contaminated and issue subsequent communications. Updates on inspections and testing can be found here
  • The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is maintaining high visibility on interstate systems, bridges, and rest areas. Motorists can report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347).
  • The Florida Highway Patrol is assisting with evacuations in Dixie, Levi and Taylor counties in preparation for Hurricane Idalia.
  • FLHSMV driver license and motor vehicle service center closures can be found here.
  • Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) mobile units stand ready to deploy to affected counties post storm to aid with replacement of credentials.
  • FDACS has opened up the consumer hotline to receive complaints from impacted consumers. If you believe you were sold contaminated gasoline, you can file a complaint by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA or visiting fdacs.gov.
  • Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has nearly 700 team members strategically staged across the state and ready to deploy, which includes 64 Bridge Inspectors and 224 Cut and Toss crew members. 
  • FDOT crews are equipped with almost 250 pieces of major equipment, including 140 dump trucks, 59 pumps, and 207 other heavy equipment (front-end loaders, skid-steers, etc.) 
  • Nearly 1,100 generators have been staged near the storm’s direct path to be able to quickly restore traffic signals following the storm.
  • Comcast’s preparations include staging emergency generators and fuel trucks as well as bringing in additional technical and network restoration teams that are ready to be deployed into any impacted area.
  • All 13 traffic management centers across the state, which are open 24/7, are monitoring road conditions and traffic levels along critical corridors including I-10, I-75, and I-4 to ensure safe travel for drivers.  
  • 185 Road Rangers are available across the state to assist motorists in need. 
  • In consultation with state partners, and under the direction of Governor DeSantis, tolls have been suspended at facilities along the West Coast of Florida for 7 days. The facilities include the I-4 Connector, Selmon Expressway (S.R. 618,) Veterans Expressway (S.R. 589,) Suncoast Parkway (S.R. 589,) Turnpike Mainline (I-75 to I-4,) Pinellas Bayway (S.R. 679), Sunshine Skyway Bridge (U.S. 19.)
  • All state drawbridges have been locked down in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough County. Bridges are open to traffic and will remain open as weather permits or until closed by law enforcement.  
  • All FDOT road and bridge contractors have suspended operations on active construction projects in the following counties: Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Marion, Alachua, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Columbia, Union, Bradford, Putnam, Clay, Baker, Hamilton, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Desoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Highlands, Polk, Sumter, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Flagler, Osceola, Brevard, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Bay, Washington, Holmes and Walton. 
  • The Howard Franklin Bridge project in Tampa is completing the process of securing barges in the area. All other active construction projects are taking necessary actions related to storm preparations such as securing work sites including barges and marine equipment, lowering high mast arm lighting, clearing traffic control devices that are not actively being used to direct traffic, and checking drainage systems.  
  • Port Panama City, Port Tampa Bay, Seaport Manatee, Port St. Joe, and Port of St. Petersburg have begun securing port infrastructure and clearing waterways as they prepare for the approaching storm.
  • FDOT has postponed previously scheduled maintenance activities on Jacksonville’s Main Street Bridge and the St. Augustine Bridge of Lions.
  • FDOT crews are actively sweeping roadway shoulders, preparing signage, and opening the maximum amount of lanes possible within construction zones in preparation for the potential implementation of Emergency Shoulder Use (ESU) in case of evacuations.
  • FDOT is in close communication with transportation partners across the state, including airports, seaports, rail lines and transit agencies, as they are on watch and making any necessary preparations.
  • Florida’s 511 Traveler Information System is available for drivers to stay informed about roadway conditions during emergencies. This service is monitored and updated 24/7 by FDOT and includes traffic conditions, road and bridge closures, and other specialized alerts. To use Florida’s 511, visit the website at FL511.com or download the app—on both Apple and Android devices.
  • FDOT is monitoring traffic levels along I-10, I-75, and I-4 to ensure safe flow of traffic as the storm’s predicted path becomes clearer.
  • FDOT is working with utility providers to allow staging of utility trucks at weigh stations across the state as well as coordinate post-storm debris operations in support of swift electrical power restoration.
  • Movable bridge lockdowns are being coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • FDOT is activating district emergency and pre-event contracts for post-storm operations including debris removal, traffic signal and lighting repairs, and generators.
  • FDOT reminds motorists to always drive safely. Remember to avoid distractions and slow down during inclement weather.
  • For rolling updates on Florida’s airport, seaport, and transit partners, please visit local listings or www.fdot.gov/idalia.    
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has published a storm updates webpage to keep state park visitors updated of closures: floridastateparks.org/StormUpdates. Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at closed parks have been notified of their reservation status. 
  • DEP has pre-authorized 707 Disaster Debris Management Sites for the counties included in the Governor’s Executive Order to temporarily stage storm-generated debris that may result from the storm.
  • DEP has contacted all significant hazardous waste facilities in potentially affected counties to ensure all pre-storm preparations are being made.
  • DEP is coordinating with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to respond to potential fuel availability impacts following the Port of Tampa Bay fuel mixing issue. 
  • Florida’s water management districts’ webpages have been updated to include links for real-time tracking of water levels. 
  • The Florida Department of Education is consistently updating their website with school district closures, as well as State University System and Florida College System Closures.
    • 50 County School Districts have issued closures.
    • 20 Florida State College Systems have issued closures.
    • Nine State University Systems have issued closures.

Resources for Employees and Businesses

  • In partnership with FloridaCommerce, DOH has provided resources to private sector partners selling generators to Floridians regarding generator safety and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. Information regarding proper generator safety has also been distributed on social media platforms.
  • FloridaCommerce has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Inquiries may also be emailed to [email protected].
  • FloridaCommerce has alerted the statewide Community Action Agency (CAA) Network and Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) to initiate disaster preparedness activities. LWDBs and CAAs have been advised to submit their anticipated cash needs or invoice packages for reimbursement, as appropriate, to ensure critical services to Floridians are not disrupted.
  • FloridaCommerce is hosting daily private sector coordination calls beginning Monday, August 28, 2023. Briefings will be provided by SERT meteorology, fuels, communications, transportation, and energy, as well as private sector partners such as the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and VISIT FLORIDA. 
  • FloridaCommerce is in contact with local ESF 18 representatives in the anticipated impacted areas to support economic resiliency in their communities.
  • The following CareerSource locations will experience closures:
    • CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion – from 5 p.m. on 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
    • CareerSource Pasco Hernando – from 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
    • CareerSource Tampa Bay – from 3 p.m. on 8/28/23 through 8/30/23.
    • CareerSource Gulf Coast Apalachicola Satellite Office- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
    • CareerSource North Florida- from 12 p.m. 8/29/23 through 8/30/23.
    • CareerSource Florida Crown- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
    • CareerSource North Central Florida- from 1 p.m. 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
    • CareerSource Pinellas- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
    • CareerSource Suncoast- from 8/29/2023 through 8/30/2023.
    • CareerSource Northeast Florida- from 1 p.m. 8/29/2023 through 8/31/2023.
    • CareerSource Southwest Florida- Fort Myers and Port Charlotte offices closed from 8/29/23 through 8/30/23.
  • FloridaCommerce partners, including CVS, Walmart, Publix, Kroger, Avis, Waze and L3 Harris have indicated that they are monitoring and preparing their employees for potential impacts. Wells Fargo is supporting to ensure banking services remain available to Floridians. 
  • FloridaCommerce has also been in contact with Amazon who will donate gift cards and supplies to nonprofits following the storm.
  • Uber announced FREE* round-trip rides to Florida shelter locations in Alachua, Citrus, Collier, Dixie, Lake, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, Union, and Volusia counties in preparation of Hurricane Idalia.
    • Open your app.
    • Tap “Account” on the bottom right.
    • Tap Wallet
    • Scroll down to “+ Add Promo Code.”
    • Enter code IDALIARELIEF
  • Businesses located in Florida are encouraged to review the Business Re-Entry Procedures and ensure that employees have the required documentation prior to the storm’s arrival.
  • Rosen Hotels and Resorts is activating their Florida Residents Distressed Rates to give Floridians a safe, affordable place to stay during Hurricane Idalia. Evacuees can call 866-33-ROSEN (76736) to reserve a room.
  • VISIT FLORIDA has activated the Emergency Accommodations Module with Expedia to provide real-time availability of hotel rooms throughout the state.
  • DBPR sent the Boil Water Notice Guidelines to food and lodging establishments throughout the impacted areas of the state to help businesses prepare for post-storm recovery.
  • The DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants is coordinating and preparing emergency response teams in the Big Bend, North Florida and Tampa Bay regions for a post-storm rapid response to assist lodging establishments and restaurants in reopening as necessary.
  • DBPR encourages Florida’s licensed contractors who are looking to help property owners in need of post-storm construction-related services to register with the Florida Disaster Contractors Network at DCNOnline.org. DBPR is a founding partner in the Disaster Contractors Network, a contractor-verified clearinghouse to connect individuals with building professionals to address storm-related construction and repairs, and minimize fraudulent construction schemes seeking to take advantage of vulnerable Floridians after a storm.
  • In response to potential impacts from Hurricane Idalia, DBPR has closed district offices today, Tuesday, August 29, 2023, in Fort Myers, Gainesville (at 1 p.m.), Jacksonville, Largo and Tampa. The Tallahassee office will be closed Wednesday, August 30, 2023. DBPR will continue to monitor storm conditions and make determinations on additional closures for the safety of staff and visitors as necessary.
  • DBPR has published an emergency page at MyFloridaLicense.com/emergency, where the current status of DBPR office closures, executive orders, board meeting updates, and other resources related to Hurricane Idalia will be posted as necessary.
  • The DBPR Division of Service Operations is currently prioritizing the processing of roofing contractor and construction out-of-state endorsement applications to ensure an abundance of qualified, licensed contractors are available to legally provide construction and repair services to homeowners after Hurricane Idalia.
  • OIR issued an Informational Memorandum to all authorized residential property insurers to provide guidance on hurricane preparedness and response. OIR directed insurers to review all aspects of their disaster preparedness and response plans to ensure they’re in compliance with Florida law. Informational Memorandum OIR-23-05M is available here.

Emergency Orders

  • State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed Emergency Order 23-001, which: 
    • Waives competitive procurement requirements in order to procure commodities, goods, and services expeditiously in response to the emergency. 
    • Permits emergency medical transportation services to operate across county lines.
    • Permits paramedics and EMT’s licensed in other U.S. states, territories, or districts to practice in Florida in response to the emergency without penalty.
  • The State Surgeon General signed Emergency Order 23-002, which: 
    • Permits mobile pharmacies to operate during the state of emergency.    
    • Extends the reporting requirement for controlled substances to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, contained in section 893.055(3)(a), Florida Statutes, from 1 day to up to 30 days.
    • Extends the licensure renewal deadlines set forth in sections 468.309(1)(a), 480.043(10), and 480.0415, Florida Statutes, for upcoming license renewals of radiological personnel, massage therapists, and massage establishments.
  • Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has FLHSMV has issued Emergency Order 082623, which:
    • waives specific requirements for commercial motor vehicles providing emergency relief; and
    • waives the replacement fees for driver’s license and identification credentials, vehicle registrations and titles, vessel registrations and titles and temporary parking permits for impacted individuals.
  • Following the issuance of the Governor’s Executive Order, DEP has issued an Emergency Final Order waiving permitting requirements for the storage and processing of solid waste, including hurricane debris.
  • DEP’s Emergency Final Order also removes barriers for expediting necessary repair, replacement and restoration of structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works and other systems that may be damaged by the storm.
  • FDOT issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow expanded weight and size requirements for vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and agriculture commodities and citrus.

Tropical Storm Idalia Update of August 29, 2023, PM Update