The National Hurricane Center has confirmed that Tropical Storm Idalia is now a Category 3 hurricane. Forecasters say it'll make landfall along the western coast of Florida, but that doesn't mean the entire state won't feel its wrath. Flooding risks, storm surges, and damaging winds could happen across the state.
What happens if there's flooding? Don't try to wade, swim, or drive through floodwaters. It could carry debris, diseases, chemicals, waste, and even wildlife. Try to find high ground if you're outside. If you're inside a home, move to higher areas or the upstairs. Do not go into the attic; you could get trapped there. We have more information on our tips page about flooding.
What power sources should I use? Battery-operated devices and outside generators. Make sure to have spare battery chargers on hand for your phone and other emergency devices. Do not use candles, and don't use a portable generator inside the house or garage.
What should I do inside the house? Stay inside a secure area away from windows. This can include hallways, bathrooms, basements, and walk-in closets. If you can't avoid windows, make sure to stay as far away as possible. Have as many walls around you, too. If you've already boarded up your windows beforehand, that's a plus.
How often should I use my phone? Save phone calls for emergencies. Keep in mind mobile networks are super busy or could go down during severe weather events. Conserve charge by keeping it in airplane mode or power-saving mode. Contact friends and family on social media or through text message.
How do I keep up with major updates? The social media and websites of your local National Weather Service office, local government, and emergency management offices. Your local radio station and news stations are also handy sources.
What do I do after the storm leaves the area? When your local officials tell you it's safe to do so, go ahead and start surveying the damage. Walk carefully around your home and watch out for any hazards, including loose power lines, floodwaters, gas leaks, and structural damage. Take pictures of the damage and contact your insurance company.
Can I drive after the hurricane passes? If your local officials say it's safe to do so. Even then, several roads and bridges could be shut down due to damage and hazards from the storm. Check with your local sources to see which driving routes are feasible. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Watch out for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, and weakened infrastructure, such as sidewalks and roadside walls.
What should I do if I want to start cleanup? Make sure to wear protective clothing, including face coverings, specialized masks, and gloves. Anyone with asthma, lung conditions, specific allergies, or immune suppression concerns, shouldn't enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth. Children shouldn't be involved in cleanup work.