Emergency operations activated, shelters opened, schools closed ahead of expected midweek hurricane landfall
Florida Politics | By Anne Geggis | August 28, 2023
School cancellations cut a broad swath across the state, reflecting the storm’s expected march from Lee County to Jacksonville.
School cancellations in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia coming to Florida’s shore cut a broad swath through the entire state, from the southwestern Lee County to Duval County in the northeast.
The storm, expected to make landfall as a major storm early Wednesday and march across the state, also spawned evacuation orders and scuttled plans for government meetings planned for this week. Tampa International Airport announced it will suspend commercial operations at 12:01 a.m., Tuesday and remain closed “until it can asses damage later in the week. And the storm will close Busch Gardens Tampa Bay at 3 p.m., Tuesday and remain closed through Wednesday.
Jefferson County Schools released early on Tuesday and will remained shut on Wednesday
Early release on Tuesday has been announced for Madison County Schools and Sumter County Schools with plans to remain closed through Thursday. P.K. Yonge will also release early on Tuesday, but open back up Thursday.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday:
— Alachua County Schools.
— Charlotte County Schools.
— Citrus County Schools.
— Columbia County Schools.
— DeSoto County Schools.
— Dixie County Schools.
— Duval County Schools, also remaining closed through Thursday.
— Franklin County Schools.
— Gilchrist County Schools.
— Hardee County Schools.
— Hernando County Schools.
— Hillsborough County Schools.
— Lee County Schools.
— Leon County Schools.
— Levy County Schools.
— Manatee County Schools.
— Marion County Schools.
— Nassau County Schools.
— Pasco County Schools.
— Pinellas County Schools.
— Sarasota County Schools.
— Suwannee County Schools.
— Taylor County Schools, also remaining closed though Friday.
— Wakulla County Schools.
Closing Wednesday only:
— Bradford County Schools.
— Brevard County Schools.
— Clay County Schools.
— FAMU Lab School.
— Flagler County Schools.
— Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
— Florida State University Lab School.
— Gadsden County Schools.
— Hamilton County Schools.
— Lake County Schools.
— Lafayette County Schools.
— Leon County Schools.
— Orange County Schools.
— Osceola County Schools.
— St. Johns County Schools.
— Seminole County Schools.
— Volusia County Schools.
Closing Wednesday and Thursday:
— Baker County Schools.
— Polk County Schools.
— Putnam County Schools.
— Union County Schools.
State-run higher education institutions
— College of Central Florida will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Daytona State College will be closed Wednesday.
— Eastern Florida State College will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
— Florida A&M University closed Tuesday afternoon and will remain closed through Friday.
— Florida Gateway College and its testing center will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Florida Gulf Coast University will have remote classes Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Florida Polytechnic University will move to remote operations starting at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday until 10 a.m., Wednesday.
— Florida State College at Jacksonville will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Florida State University closed at noon Tuesday and plans to stay shuttered through Friday.
— Florida SouthWestern State College will be closed Tuesday.
— Gulf Coast State College (Gulf/Franklin Campus) will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Hillsborough Community College will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Lake-Sumter State College will close at 5 p.m., Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday.
— New College of Florida has canceled Tuesday and Wednesday classes.
— North Florida College closed at noon Tuesday and remain closed through Wednesday.
— Pasco-Hernando State College closed Monday and plans to remain closed through Wednesday.
— St. Petersburg College will close Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Santa Fe College will close Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Seminole State College will close at 5 p.m., Tuesday and remain closed through Wednesday.
— South Florida State College will close Tuesday and Wednesday.
— State College of Florida will close Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Tallahassee Community College will close at 5 p.m, Tuesday and remain closed through Friday.
— University of Central Florida will close Wednesday.
— University of Florida closed at noon Tuesday and will remain closed through Wednesday.
— University of North Florida will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— University of South Florida will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Valencia College will be closed Wednesday.
Citrus County Courthouse and all county government offices will be closed through Wednesday.
The Florida Board of Governors canceled an orientation for new members that had been scheduled for Tuesday. A 1 p.m. Board of Governors’ meeting, also on Tuesday, was moved to Zoom, but then canceled.
The Osceola County Westside Boulevard Extension Public Information meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday at the ChampionsGate Golf Club has been postponed to a later date.
The Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee has gone to a 24-hour schedule until the emergency is over, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced from the center Sunday afternoon.
“There’s a lot that can happen,” DeSantis said, noting that Hurricane Ian did not follow its expected track — coming ashore notably farther south than its anticipated Tampa Bay debut.
Evacuation orders and emergency shelter openings will be left to local officials, DeSantis said.
Citrus County issued emergency evacuation orders for the area west of U.S. 19.
Among the certainties, so far:
— Manatee County has opened shelters at Freedom Elementary School, Miller Elementary School and Mills Elementary School.
— Additional school closings will be announced on a state Department of Education website.
— The state Department of Children and Families will be releasing funds for Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program (SNAP) on Tuesday for those in the affected areas who normally get the money to their card between the first and 14th of each month.
— The Florida National Guard is mobilizing 2,500 personnel Tuesday and Wednesday, in addition to another 3,000 Guard personnel being activated Monday.
— The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has 25 officers, one mobile command vehicle, one operations command center and two mobile staging units ready to deploy to support the activated State Emergency Operations Center team.
— Regulations regarding items such as prescription refills, hauling limits for commercial vehicles providing direct assistance and solid waste collection have been loosened or are ready to be loosened.
— Ports along the Gulf Coast — Port Tampa Bay, Seaport Manatee and the Port of St. Petersburg — have begun clearing waterways and securing anything that needs it.
— Supplies and personnel poised to respond to the disaster will be staged in Marion County or the northeastern part of the state to enable maximum flexibility should the situation change, DeSantis said.
DeSantis said everyone who is anywhere near the Gulf Coast should be paying attention.
“So people here in Tallahassee, you’re not out of the woods at all,” he said.
Mike Wright of Florida Politics contributed to this report.