The city of Gainesville held a news conference about Tropical Storm Idalia on Monday at 5:30 p.m., encouraging citizens to prepare while giving out resource information.
The meeting came just half an hour after Alachua County fell under a hurricane warning, with winds greater than 74 miles per hour possible in the next 36 hours.
The storm is expected to grow into a Category 2 hurricane when it makes landfall on Wednesday, and city staff say Idalia could hit as a Category 3.
Fire rescue staff said the storm could bring 4 to 7 inches of rain with hurricane winds. The city could also see an influx of residents from the coast where the flood stage is expected to be between 4 feet and 11 feet.
Those residents can find an Alachua County shelter to stay at. The county will release shelter information on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
“We have been working towards being prepared during the year,” City Manager Cynthia Curry said. “We’re just not getting activated now.”
Already, sandbag operations have opened in Gainesville, Alachua County and other municipalities. Brian Singleton, director of public works, said at the meeting that the city had handed out 6,800 sandbags on Monday.
Sandbags will also be available on Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the public works building or Citizens Field.
The city released a list of closures for the coming days.
- Regional Transit System (RTS) will continue as normal on Tuesday until 1 p.m. and run on reduced service for the rest of the day as the weather allows. But, RTS will not operate on Wednesday. RTS will not collect bus fares after 1 p.m.
- Nature parks will close on Tuesday, but active parks will remain open until 1 p.m.
- Recycling and garbage service will not happen on Wednesday. Currently, residents on Wednesday service can expect pickup on Thursday, and residents on Thursday service can expect pickup on Friday.
- The city asked that bulk items not be placed by the road this week.
Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) General Manager Tony Cunningham told residents to report any service outages but warned residents to stay away from downed power lines or standing water.
Information on power outages can be found at gru.com/stormcentral.
Cunningham said GRU staff had already started accumulating equipment over the weekend to be ready.
He added that city water is unlikely to get knocked out of service. Lines are underground and safe from wind and rain. However, he advised residents will wells to stock up on bottled water since a loss of electricity could also cut their water supply.
“I am hopeful that all our preparations are overkill and that we won’t actually need this,” Mayor Harvey Ward said. “But, the information at hand tells us that we do need to be here, informing you about what’s going on.”