As of Tuesday, Hurricane Michael is bringing with it winds that are raging at 120 miles per hour. The storm is headed straight for the Florida panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center expects Michael to make landfall on Wednesday, according to Yahoo! News. That gives residents a few more hours to get out of the path of the storm, and many are doing just that at the urging of the governor.
“Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat,” says Florida’s governor Rick Scott. He has already mobilized 2,500 members of the National Guard in preparation for the deadly storm. Scott says that Michael could be the “most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades.”
Residents are being asked to evacuate. According to Panama City Beach fire department chief Larry Couch, those who stay are putting themselves in danger. “We will shut down operations at a certain point and when we do that, they’re on their own,” he said of residents who choose to ignore the evacuation warning.
In other words, there may not be help available for those who choose to stay.
Much of Panama City Beach is closed now. The wind is picking up and the waves are majestic. pic.twitter.com/tT5LxAQA2k— Luz Lazo (@luzcita) October 9, 2018
Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration for the state, which will allow Florida to make use of federal funds and obtain assistance from FEMA.
Hurricane Michael could cause flash flooding, create tornadoes, and dump 9 to 13 feet of rain on the state.
Nearby residents in the Carolinas are still trying to recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in September as a category 1 storm and killed dozens of people. They are likely to face even more rain due to Michael.
There are already shelters open in Florida for displaced residents. The Pensacola International Airport is scheduled to close Wednesday, according to ABC News. Those who can’t get away from the storm can go to one of the shelter sites, which are already receiving people.
If Michael does make landfall as a Category 2 storm or better, this will be the strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year. Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Response and Recovery, predicts that there will be “damage to infrastructure” as well as power outages, according to CNN.
Gov. Scott has repeatedly urged residents to leave the panhandle region, and as of Tuesday Panama City Beach is beginning to look like a ghost town. Homes are boarded up and many businesses have closed down ahead of the storm.