WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Get out! That’s the message from the federal government as the Florida panhandle braces for a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.
In an afternoon briefing call, FEMA officials said the storm is strengthening and will be devastating when it hits.
They said those in its path should get out and warn that the window to do so safely is rapidly closing. At least half-a-million people are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. Major damage is expected to power, waste water, and transportation services.
“We are very well prepared. FEMA’s ready. We’re all ready,” said President Donald Trump earlier in the day, “I spoke with Gov. [Rick] Scott (R-FL), spoke with everybody that you have to speak to, and I think that hopefully we’ll get lucky, but maybe that won’t happen, but we’re prepared.”
Spokespeople for FEMA and other response organizations said that despite that preparation power will go out and life-saving services may not be available during and immediately after the storm. They said they’ll do everything in their power to re-establish safety, security, food, water, health and hazardous waste systems when the storm takes them offline.
Those on Tuesday’s afternoon briefing call said 18 Red Cross evacuation shelters are open.
They won’t be comfortable though – and anyone planning on riding out the storms in one should bring prescription medications, blankets, clothes, hygiene products and important documents.
Federal officials suggest those in the storm’s path download the FEMA smartphone app, and visit www.ready.gov