Alachua County opened three emergency shelters Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Idalia became a Category 1 hurricane expected to reach Category 3 strength by the time it makes landfall, according to Alachua County Ready.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a hurricane warning for the Gainesville area at 11:01 a.m. Tuesday, to remain in effect until further notice. The NWS predicts local winds at 25-35 miles per hour, and gusts up to 55 mph, with the potential for extreme winds at more than 110 mph.
A flood watch and tornado watch are also in effect, as the NWS monitors favorable weather conditions for both events.
Three shelters opened in Alachua County, two in Gainesville and one in Newberry, plus a fourth near Hawthorne operated by Putnam County.
Two general population shelters are pet-friendly, though Animal Resources encourages citizens to bring basic pet supplies and veterinary records with proof of vaccination.
A third, a special needs shelter, provides one cot per patient, but officials advise caregivers to bring bedding in case the shelter runs out of cots.
Special needs shelters are not pet-friendly and are intended for those with impairments or disabilities, who require care beyond the first aid general population shelters provide, according to the Florida Department of Health.
At all shelters, citizens should bring any special dietary foods and prescription medications they need, as well as spare clothing, personal care items, spare glasses or contacts and a form of identification, according to officials.
Alachua County’s general population shelters are at the following locations:
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center
1028 N.E. 14th Street, Gainesville
- The Easton-Newberry Sports Complex
24880 N.W. 16th Avenue, Newberry
Putnam County will also open a pet-friendly shelter at 5 p.m., which will be the closest shelter for Hawthorne residents. That shelter is located at Ochwilla Elementary School: 299 State Road 21, Hawthorne.
The Alachua County Senior Recreation Center (5701 N.W. 34th Boulevard, Gainesville) is open as a special needs shelter for those who require additional assistance.
“Please consider evacuation if you don’t feel safe,” the county said in a Tuesday morning release. “We have an Evacuation Order for those who live in mobile or manufactured homes or if you live in flood-prone areas. If you have flooded during previous storms, you need to evacuate.”
The openings come on the heels of local states of emergency declared by both the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and the city of Gainesville as the area braces for impact early Wednesday morning. Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed a state of emergency for 33 counties and has since updated it to include 49 counties, including all of North Central Florida.
On Monday, Levy County issues mandatory evacuation orders for residents along coastal areas.
The City of Gainesville announced that it would not alter trash collection on Tuesday, although trash carts and recycling containers would only be picked up for residents with regularly scheduled Tuesday collections.
The city has suspended all waste and recycling collection for Wednesday, when the storm is scheduled to make landfall. Residents with Wednesday service will receive it on Thursday, while residents with Thursday service will receive it on Friday, according to current city plans.
Following Tuesday collections, the city asks all residents to remove any waste and recycling containers from the curbside before the storm arrives.