Alachua County announced it is under a tropical storm watch and flood watch as of Tuesday evening.
Category 3 Hurricane Ian is about 110 miles southwest of Naples as of 11 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to approach Florida’s West Coast beginning Wednesday.
The Jacksonville National Weather Service predicts Alachua County will experience 58-74 mph wind speeds. The storm is expected to produce between 12 to 18 inches of rainfall through Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center, with isolated totals up to 24 inches in Central and Northeast Florida.
Counties under a hurricane warning include Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte and Lee, according to a Florida State news release.
To prepare, Alachua County opened a hurricane shelter at Meadowbrook Elementary School, located at 11525 NW 39th Ave., and a special needs shelter at the Alachua County Senior Center, located at 5701 NW 34th Blvd. Service animals will be allowed at the senior center, according to an Alachua County press release.
The senior center is only providing one cot per patient. Caregivers need to bring any needed sleeping arrangements, according to the release.
The Alachua County Animal Resources and Care animal shelter stopped the intake of animals Wednesday through Friday, the county announced in the press release. The shelter urged residents not to leave their pets behind.
The county opened two pet-friendly shelters at Easton Newberry Archery Center located at 24880 NW 16th Ave., and Eastside High School located at 1201 SE 43rd St. in Gainesville, Tuesday morning.
Residents must bring their own bedding arrangements, as they are not provided by the shelter. The county also asked residents to bring any special dietary foods, child necessities, prescription medication and small coolers of ice for any items that need refrigeration.
The NWS recommends preparing homes by installing check-valves in the plumbing, ensuring residents’ home insurance covers flooding and placing sandbags if there is enough time to do so.
Sandbags are available at the following locations: Wayside park, 11855 NW US Route 441; High Springs Memorial Park, 2715 NW US Hwy 44, High Springs; Newberry Public Works Compound, 120 NW 260th St., Newberry; Lacrosse Recreational Park, 20407 N State Road 121, Alachua; Waldo, 14380 Earle St., Waldo; Gainesville Public Works Department, 405 NW 39th Ave, Gainesville and Gainesville Citizens Field, 1400 NE 8th Ave., Gainesville, according to an Alachua County Instagram post.
Contact Fernando at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @fernfigue.
Fern is a junior journalism and sustainability studies major. He previously reported for the University and Metro desks. Now, he covers the environmental beat on the Enterprise desk. When he's not reporting, you can find him dancing to house music at Barcade or taking photos on his Olympus.