TAMPA — City of Tampa officials urged residents to shelter in place late Wednesday, saying the area has yet to see the worst of Hurricane Ian.
During a 5:30 p.m. news conference, Mayor Jane Castor said the next 24 hours will be the most dangerous for Tampa, and people should stay inside.
“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 8 p.m., and they are going to last throughout the night,” Castor said. “It’s still going to cause flooding.”
The city expects storm surge, she added, though it won’t be as bad as the catastrophic conditions in Southwest Florida, where Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon. The local surge will be a more “gradual influx” of water, Castor said.
So far, there have been reports of downed trees and power lines in Tampa, city officials said. They didn’t provide exact numbers.
Fire Rescue Chief Barbara Tripp said people shouldn’t drive around the city, noting that Tampa Electric Co. has pulled its crews off the streets for safety.
The city is still responding to medical and fire calls for service, Tripp said.
Tampa doesn’t plan to enact a curfew, she added, and is instead recommending that people stay indoors during the height of the storm.
During a Tuesday morning news conference, city officials said they planned to enact a curfew, but later in the day said one might not be necessary.
Castor also confirmed Wednesday that she has spoken with Gov. Ron DeSantis about the storm. Her spokesperson, Adam Smith, said they talked over the phone Tuesday evening. DeSantis told Castor about the state’s efforts to handle Ian, Smith said.
A 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center placed the center of the storm near Port Charlotte, about 5 miles east of Punta Gorda.
Tampa Bay remains under threat of hurricane force winds and heavy rain likely to cause flash flooding. The National Hurricane Center predicts 4 to 6 feet of storm surge. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, more than 200,000 power outages were reported in the region.
• • •
WHEN THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.
POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.
WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?
WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.
HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.
IT’S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.