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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Live Updates: All you need to know about Hurricane Idalia

Look here for updates on school closures, where to find storm storm shelters and more

UPDATE: Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in Florida Wednesday morning, spared much of Gainesville and Alachua County. With the departure of the hurricane, a gradual return to normalcy is underway. Many institutions, including UF and local schools, have reopened their doors after temporary closures due to the storm's threat. 

The following schools will reopen Thursday:

  • UF’s main campus

  • P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

  • Baby Gator 

  • Santa Fe College

  • Alachua County Public Schools

The rest of the article has been maintained.

Hurricane Idalia, a Category 2 storm, is forecast to intensify into a Category 3 over the next 12 hours. The storm is sustaining 100 mph winds and is projected to hit the Tallahassee region by early Wednesday, though its exact path could still change.  

Idalia, which started brewing late last week, is forecast to bring winds over 100 mph to Florida’s west coast. While Alachua County is currently outside of Idalia’s direct path, it’s still likely Alachua County will experience hurricane-force wind and rain. Life-threatening storm surge of up to 15 feet and flash floods are also expected across the state.

Some models show that Idalia may cross into the Atlantic and circle back to hit Florida again, this time on the east coast. 

Here is a compiled list of what to know in the Alachua County area for school closures, Gainesville shelters, sporting events and more.

What does this mean for Alachua County?

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Aug. 26 for 33 counties, including Alachua County, in preparation for the hurricane’s possible impacts. The state of emergency has been extended to 13 more counties as of Monday.

“Floridians along our Gulf Coast should be vigilant even if you’re currently outside the cone,” DeSantis said in a press conference Monday. “We issued an executive order yesterday to allow prep time and to stage resources to be able to respond to the storm’s aftermath.”

Alachua County Emergency Management announced a tropical disturbance alert Aug. 25, urging residents to take protective measures and stay cautious. 

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DeSantis expects North Central Florida to be hit. Several counties have been issued evacuation orders, including Pasco, Citrus and Hernando County. Residents in vulnerable areas do not need to evacuate to other states, but instead drive to higher ground in Florida, DeSantis said.

Residents along the Gulf Coast could see school closures this week, he added.

The state is mobilizing the Florida National Guard with high-water vehicles and aircrafts for the ahead of the storm. There are 2,500 Florida National Guard members on stand-by. DeSantis announced 3,000 more guards are on the way today. 

Although DeSantis said he doesn’t expect there to be major disruptions in fuel supply, about 200,000 gallons of fuel is on its way to the state. Supplies for post-hurricane recovery, such as clean water, ready-to-eat meals and tarps, are also being collected. 

Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Law Enforcement are on standby ready with assets at their disposal, DeSantis added. 

“Please remain vigilant and please follow orders,” DeSantis said.

Are UF classes canceled?

Yes. UF’s campus and classes will close at noon Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday. Students are still expected to go to class before noon on Tuesday.

Can I stay in my dorm?

Dorms will stay open during the storm and residents are advised to stay inside. Off-campus students are advised to prepare for the storm by monitoring local and state advisories. 

Will dining halls be closed? 

Dining halls will follow normal hours on Tuesday. The Food Hall at Gator Corner and The Eatery at Broward will operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Markets at Graham, Beaty and Rawlings will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Broward Bites will be open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Are clubs still active?

All student-related activities will be canceled noon Tuesday and throughout Wednesday, including on-campus student organization and club meetings.

Can I travel on the bus/RTS? 

RTS services will be available on Tuesday, but services will not be available on Wednesday. 

The Severe Weather Policy states “bus service is suspended when winds reach sustained 35 mph,” according to the RTS website,  

Notification of suspension of service goes out through,, Facebook, or the City of Gainesville. 

Will Drop/Add be extended?

The Drop/Add schedule is being maintained at this time.

When will campus reopen?

UF expects to make an announcement Wednesday regarding the presumption of classes and campus operations.

Can I leave my car on UF’s campus? 

UF students and staff are discouraged from parking vehicles in campus parking garages — including UF Health Garages — as they are needed for UF Health employees.

Are Santa Fe classes canceled?

Yes. Classes are canceled Tuesday and Wednesday. Northwest campus, all centers, the Academy for Science and Technology, the SF Teaching Zoo, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium and the SF Gymnasium will be closed. A reopening date has not yet been decided. 

Students are advised to remain updated about the storm and other college alerts with the SF Alerts page

Are Alachua County Public School classes canceled?

Yes. Schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. School reopening dates will be decided after the storm has passed.

Public input sessions on rezoning, which were originally scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, have been postponed. The Tuesday board meeting has also been postponed.

Are sporting events canceled?

There are no Florida teams scheduled to compete in Gainesville this week. The Florida Gators football team altered their travel plans to Salt Lake City, Utah, for their first game of the 2023 season against the Utah Utes Thursday. 

The team will now depart from Gainesville Tuesday for Dallas and spend the night there and will then arrive in Utah Wednesday. 

Where are the storm shelters?

The City of Gainesville will hold a press conference at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to announce the city’s plans to handle the storm. In the meantime, sandbags can be picked up at the Public Works Administration Building from noon to 5 p.m. Monday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday. There is a limit of 10 bags per person.

Alachua County will be opening a general population, pet-friendly and special medical needs shelter at 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to an Alachua County Facebook post. 

Southwest Recreation Center will open as a shelter 6 p.m. Aug. 29 for UF students, staff and their families. A Gator 1 card is required for identification. Southwest Recreation Center is located at 3150 Hull Road.

Chabad UF is also open for students to stay at until the storm passes. A limited amount of sleeping supplies are available. Chabad UF is located at 2021 NW Fifth Ave.

What can I do to prepare for the hurricane? 

  • Keep the gas tank at least half full in case evacuation is necessary

  • Have a battery-powered radio and flashlight on hand

  • Refill prescription medications ahead of time, as the storm could lead to unplanned shutdowns

  • Be prepared to lose power during the storm

  • Stock up on water

  • Make sure to have food staples

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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