Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded his state of emergency to include all 67 counties in Florida as Hurricane Dorian took aim Thursday on the Sunshine State.
The storm is predicted to possibly reach Category 4 status – maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph – before it roars ashore sometime Monday. If Dorian maintains that high status, it could be the strongest direct hit to Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
DeSantis visited the National Hurricane Center in Miami on Thursday, where he received a full briefing on Dorian. He said he is in constant communication with federal, state and local emergency management officials and state agency leaders to make sure Florida is ready for the storm’s impact. And he said Florida has the full support of President Trump, who canceled a trip to Poland to focus on the hurricane.
DeSantis said all Florida residents should have seven days of critical supplies, including food and water, stored in a safe place. And he encouraged all residents to get prepared for possible impacts – regardless of where they live – and to be ready for power outages until electric crews that are standing by can respond.
“As it increases strength, this storm has the potential to severely damage homes, businesses and buildings, which is why all Floridians should remain vigilant,” he said. “Do not wait until it is too late to make a plan.”
DeSantis said he has waived some requirements for fuel trucks coming into the state so gasoline will be available before and after the storm. He also requested that surrounding states, such as Alabama and Georgia, do the same. And he said the state has 819,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution.
DeSantis also announced that Saturday’s college football game between Florida State and Boise State has been moved from Jacksonville to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, with kickoff at noon instead of 7 p.m.
Hurricane Dorian has also grabbed the attention of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who declared a state of emergency for 12 counties in his state, as some projections have shown the storm coming ashore as far north as Savannah.
On Thursday, after largely skirting Puerto Rico, Dorian slowed and started to build up strength. Forecasters still aren’t in agreement on where it will come ashore, but on the 5 p.m. tracking map, it appeared to be heading directly toward the Vero Beach-Fort Pierce area. But forecasters warn that it’s much too early to predict an accurate path and point out that Dorian already has thrown them several curveballs as they have struggled to track its path.
Locally, the Ocala City Council and the Marion County Board of County Commissioners are expected Friday to declare states of emergency. The City Council will meet at 10 a.m. at in the council’s chambers at 110 SE Watula Ave. The council will discuss various aspects of preparing for Hurricane Dorian, including a possible curfew. County commissioners are scheduled to meet in the McPherson Governmental Campus Auditorium, at 601 SE 25th Ave. in Ocala, at 11:30 a.m. and discuss a declaration of emergency ordinance providing regulations for the removal of storm debris from public and private property/roadways in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
In Marion County, sandbags will be available starting Friday at 7 a.m. Residents must fill their own bags and the five locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those are:
- Belleview Sports Complex, 6501 SE 107th St., Belleview;
- Dunnellon City Complex, 11924 Bostick Street, Dunnellon;
- Wrigley Field, 405 County Road E 316, Citra;
- Reilly Arts Center, 500 NE 9th St., Ocala;
- Ed Crosky Recreation Center, 1510 NW Fourth St., Ocala.
A Marion County Citizens Information line also opened Thursday. It is available at (352) 369-7500 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.