TAMPA (NBC) — Hurricane Ian is now bearing down on Florida and for people in the storm’s path, the time to prepare is quickly running out.
“This one does feel a little bit different we felt this way in the past before so it’s just better to be safe than sorry,” said Mary-Kate Michalak, a Tampa area resident.
Many are finding empty store shelves, long lines for supplies and gas pumps running dry.
“This is the 4th gas station we just tried, all of them seem to be like out,” Kyle Daly said.
By midday, city sandbag stations had reached capacity. State officials continue to urge people in low-lying areas to get out. While the wind will be bad, officials say its the water they fear that will be deadly.
“You’re going to end up with really significant storm surge, you’re going to end up with really significant flood events and this is a type of storm surge that could be life-threatening,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Two and a half million people up and down the Gulf Coast are under evacuation orders, prompting bumper-to-bumper traffic on many highways.
“If people are told to evacuate by their local officials, please listen to them,” said Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator. “The decision you choose to make may mean the difference between life and death.”
The storm slammed the western tip of Cuba before taking aim at Florida. Ian, now predicted to make landfall south of Tampa but the state’s governor doesn’t want anyone to get complacent based on the forecast.
“Just because the eye isn’t going into Tampa bay, one little wobble can change that,” DeSantis said.
Thousands of national guard troops are active and state and federal agencies have supplies staged throughout the region to help with recovery after the storm moves through.