Flagler County has issued an evacuation order effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, for people living in mobile homes, recreational vehicles, trailers and unsafe structures as Hurricane Idalia approaches.
People in unsafe housing should consider staying in a hotel or with friends or family in a standard structure. An emergency shelter will open at Rymfire Elementary at 5 p.m. Tuesday, County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said at an Aug. 29 press conference.
"We have asked all county residents and businesses to be prepared for tropical storm impacts late tonight and throughout the day tomorrow," Lord said. "... We urge that all residents and businesses that have not done so already to complete their pre-storm preparation today."
People going to the shelter should bring identification, medical and insurance information; five days worth of medications and medical supplies; sleeping bags, pillows and blankets; snacks and comfort foods (meals will be served); and headphones and extra batteries or chargers for electronic equipment.
Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents and turtles are allowed at the shelter. They must be crated and have current vaccination records and supplies (including medications), and there is a four pet limit per household.
Flagler County can expect to see tropical storm force winds throughout Wednesday, Aug. 30, with sustained winds of 57 mph and gusts up to 70 mph, up to 3 inches of rain, scattered power outages, potential wind debris and the potential for tornadoes, Lord said.
Significant flooding is not expected, but flood-prone areas along the Intracoastal in Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach could see minor flooding. The northeast coastline down to the Flagler-Volusia County line could see storm surge of 1 to 3 feet, according to a National Hurricane Center report.
In Palm Coast, the city government handed out sandbags, opened a 24-hour assistance line and used its social media channels to push out storm-related information to residents.
Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency for Palm Coast on Aug. 28 as city staff prepared for the storm.
Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill told City Council members at an Aug. 29 workshop that residents and staff must finalize preparations on Aug. 29, ahead of the storm's landing.
The fire department would not send out personnel at sustained winds of over 50 mph, Berryhill said. At that speed, he said, it is no longer safe to be on the roads, and personnel will go into a holding pattern for emergency calls.
“We haven’t had [winds that speed] since Hurricane Irma,” Berryhill said.
Palm Coast and Flagler County set up multiple sandbag locations for residents on Aug. 28 and 29.
Palm Coast's 24-hour customer service line opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will remain available until the storm subsides, according to a Palm Coast press. The customer service number is 386-986-2360, or residents can submit a case through Palm Coast Connect. Assistance is limited to city-related matters; residents should call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Flagler County also opened a call center line at 386-313-4200 and expected to operate it throughout the storm.
The city closed parks, trails and facilities on Tuesday, Aug. 29, and expects to reopen them after conducting safety assessments later in the week.
Flagler Schools canceled classes for Aug. 30 and outdoor after-school activities scheduled for Aug. 29. Additional cancelations may follow depending on the aftermath of the storm, according to an announcement from Flagler Schools.
Garbage pickup and yard and debris service for Palm Coast and Flagler County have been canceled for Wednesday, Aug. 30, but mayresume on Aug. 31.
The National Hurricane Center had predicted Idalia would make landfall in Florida early on Wednesday, Aug. 30. A tropical storm warning was issued for much of the northeast coast of Florida, including Flagler and Volusia Counties, on Monday, Aug. 28. As of an 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, update from the NHC, Idalia was moving northeast at around 14 mph, with a maximum sustained windspeed of 85 mph.
Throughout the day on Monday, Idalia had strengthened, developing into a Category 1 hurricane overnight. It was projected to become a Category 3 hurricane by Wednesday morning before it made landfall, according to a report from the NHC.
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Aug. 28 placing 46 counties under a state of emergency — Flagler and Volusia Counties among them — and later expanded that to 49 counties. Later that day, he also suspended tolls across Florida’s west coast, beginning 4 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, to aide evacuations along the Gulf Coast.
A News Service of Florida story on the hurricane quoted DeSantis as likening the storm to Hurricane Michael in 2018, which hit the panhandle as a Category 5 hurricane.
"We've seen this before with something like Hurricane Michael, that continues to gather strength,” DeSantis said. “So, this is going to be a major impact, and Floridians should expect that this storm will be a major Category 3-plus hurricane."
The NHC classifies major hurricanes as any with windspeed greater than 110 mph.
For up-to-date information from the county, residents can follow the Flagler County Emergency Management department at the social media handle FlaglerEOC on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. Information from Palm Coast can be found on its social media pages, PalmCoast.gov and Palm Coast Connect at palmcoast.gov/Connect.
Residents can also sign up for ALERTFlagler, a free service for emergency information, at flaglercounty.gov/alertflagler.
— Managing Editor Jonathan Simmons contributed to this story.