Hurricane Idalia to unleash rain and strong winds on Florida


11:39 a.m. ET, August 29, 2023

St. Petersburg officials are preparing for Hurricane Idalia as if “we could get a direct hit”

A resident places wooden boards to protect a house in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday.

Juan Manuel Barrero Bueno/Bloomberg via .

Officials in St. Petersburg, Florida, are warning residents about storm surge from Hurricane Idalia.  

“We are preparing as if we could get a direct hit,” Rob Gerdes, administrator for St. Petersburg, during a press conference.  

The center of Idalia is forecast to make landfall well north of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, though a small shift in the track could put that vulnerable population center more at risk.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch cautioned his citizens that after Idalia potentially passes over the community, the danger will not be over.  

“Folks shouldn’t relax until the storm is well past us. And even when it is past us we are still going to see storm surge,” Welch said. “It is important to understand that the highest impact for storm surge, is tomorrow afternoon around 2 p.m.”

“Please stay in your homes, stay alert, and wait for the message from officials that it is safe to leave,” Welch said at a press conference at his city emergency management center.  

Four shelters including a special needs facility and pet shelters are now open in St. Petersburg, the mayor said. 

The city has now stopped the distribution of sandbags to allow city employees who were working the sandbagging operations time to prepare their own homes, he said.

Crews are also preparing for potential power loss. “We are prepared for what lies ahead,” Jeff Baker with Duke Energy said. The company said that 4,500 energy workers from around the region and Midwest are coming into the region to help with the restoration efforts.   

St. Petersburg has over 260,000 citizens, according to the U.S. Census.   

The city plans on holding an additional press conference later today.

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