TAMPA — Hillsborough County expanded its evacuation order Tuesday, telling 90,000 additional residents to leave their homes for safer grounds before Hurricane Ian comes to town.
The county’s Zone B, which had been under a voluntary evacuation recommendation, is now under a mandated order beginning at noon. Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said residents should be out of their homes by 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Hillsborough County on Monday ordered residents in its coastal areas and people living in mobile and manufactured houses to evacuate their homes. That initial order applied to more than 300,000 people in regions along Tampa and Hillsborough bays from the Manatee County line to as far north as a portion of Race Track Road on the county’s west side. That evacuation zone also includes the areas along waterways feeding into the bay, including the Hillsborough, Alafia and other rivers.
The expansion into Zone B is for the areas adjoining Zone A. The county’s evacuation maps can be found here. A city of Tampa information center can be reached at 888-872-4636. In Hillsborough County, call 833-427-8676
As of Tuesday morning, more than 600 people had taken refuge in one of the 43 schools serving as shelters, said Hillsborough Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister asked residents to be proactive and said he was heartened by the images of heavy traffic on Interstates 4 and 75, presumably caused by motorists leaving the area.
“It’s the only time that traffic can make me so happy,” Chronister told reporters at the Hillsborough County public safety complex.
Mandatory evacuations, however, do not mean forced evacuations. It means people who stay could put themselves in peril if emergency workers later cannot respond to calls for help.
“We’re not throwing anyone out of their homes,” said Chronister. “If they stay, they’re going to do it at their own risk.”
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