Hurricane Ian heads toward Florida

Lee County officials in southwest Florida are implementing a mandatory evacuation order for residents living in zone A and parts of zone B of the county, officials said Tuesday. 

The county is currently under a hurricane watch, tropical storm warning and a storm surge warning, according to a Facebook post from Monday night.  

“The evacuation this morning is a mandatory evacuation order, and that is as mandatory as can be,” Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said in a news conference Tuesday. “We will not be going house to house enforcing people to leave, but we are stressing the importance of people getting out of harm’s way.” 

Zone A is generally surrounded by low-lying areas that tend to flood, Desjarlais said. Residents living in mobile and manufactured homes are also encouraged to leave, he added.  

Government offices are closed Tuesday and won’t reopen until Thursday, according to the county’s website. All toll sites on Lee County are suspended “until further notice,” the county added.  

The county’s school district and its offices, which serves nearly 100,000 students, are also closed Tuesday and Wednesday. School officials said they’d reevaluate when to reopen by 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. 

There are 10 pet-friendly emergency shelters opening throughout the county at 9 a.m. ET, Desjarlais said. Residents looking for shelter information, zone information, as well as Ian’s whereabouts, can check the county’s website and Facebook.  

County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, also present at the news conference, stressed the uncertainty of the storm at this time.  

“I just want to get a point across that we are going to feel this storm – how badly is still undetermined,” Marceno said. “Understand and we stress the fact that once the winds hit a sustained 45 miles per hour, law enforcement, emergency personnel, are not going to respond. So, God forbid someone does need 911 and they dial, a law enforcement officer is not going to respond until it’s safe to.”

Lee County is roughly 132 miles west of West Palm Beach, Florida.   

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