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Mayor Demings says Orange County will start to experience impacts of Ian at 2 pm

Photo: Orange County Government
Photo: Orange County Government

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings updated residents early Wednesday about the projected track of Hurricane Ian and possible impacts to the area. 

Here’s what he said we can expect in the next 24 hours. 

"From all predictive models, it looks like the storm is going to come right over Orange County.

And we need to therefore plan for the worst, hope for the best in this process, but be very definitive in the actions that we're taking to protect human lives. For East Central Florida, the wind threat remains significant. There is a significant threat of strong tropical force winds and frequent hurricane force gusts pushing inland from the West Coast.

Especially for Orange County and our surrounding counties.

The winds are expected to arrive by as early as 2 pm today, strong winds that is by 2 pm today. However, there is certainly a multi-day threat. This is not going to be something that is going to be over in just a few hours. It is going to be with us for the next day and a half or so and so our residents really have to plan for that.

Flood watches are in effect, rainfall is projected to be as much as 24 inches within our area. A tornado watch is in effect for much of East Central Florida and Orange County today through at least 5 pm. We are asking our residents to curtail travel by motor vehicle no later than 2 pm today, because we should began to see wind gusts and sustained wind speeds of 35 plus mph.

That makes it dangerous for people to be out on the roadway.

So again, we're asking our residents to begin to curtail all motor vehicle traffic today by as early as 2 pm.

Within the next 24 hours, we will get sustained winds of 95 mph. And so that means that those are hurricane force winds that will create significant damage for our community. And we want everyone to be prepared for that.

By this evening, we will be experiencing full tropical force tropical storm winds. With the worsening of these conditions, Orange County Fire Rescue crews are right now out checking all 79 of our mobile home parks. And they are providing evacuation notices for those who are living in those homes, mobile home communities.

This is the second time that our fire rescue crews have visited the mobile home parks in the past two days. They will be making an announcement on a loud speaker to evacuate to a hardened structure or nearby shelter. Residents should relocate no later, again, we're asking them by 2 pm today.

Now we're being proactive in our community to assist in this process.

We have teams of law enforcement and fire personnel who are working as we speak with the Lynx public bus system. And they are working on a voluntary evacuation plan for mobile home parks within our community.

We are working with Lynx. We have the interim CEO here, Ms. Tiffany Homer Hawkins, who has joined us. They have provided 13 buses that will be utilized in some of these most vulnerable areas that I just talked about, the mobile home parks, as we will be proactively evacuating persons from those areas.

These are in low lying areas that historically have had problems and the inability for residents to evacuate in the past.

I want to remind residents that our Orange County Fire Rescue crews have also visited all 96 Orange County assisted living facilities, checking on their emergency plans and making sure that all of them are safe. All 96 have been visited.

Excuse me, let me talk a little bit about shelters at this point.

All five of our shelters are now open and receiving residents. With this rapidly changing hurricane we urge residents to not delay if they need to use the shelters. They're there for your convenience. There are three pet-friendly shelters. One at Apopka High School, Oak Ridge High School, and Timber Creek High School. Again all of these will be accepting individuals and their pets. Ocoee High School and Dr. Phillips High School are also being used as shelters, but they are not to have pets in those specific locations.

Now, for Orange County residents who require special needs, we have open shelters. If you want to gain assistance if you are a person with special needs or disability in other words, we can arrange transportation to a special needs shelter for those individuals. They simply have to call 311 within Orange County."

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.