FEMA Chief Warns Floridians to Prepare for Hurricane Isaias: ‘Don’t Bet Your Safety’

August 1, 2020 Updated: August 2, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor on Saturday warned Florida residents to be prepared for Hurricane Isaias.

“Take preparedness actions today, make yourself, your family, your business safer today, so you won’t regret it tomorrow,” he said during an interview with Fox News.

The National Hurricane Center said earlier the day that hurricane conditions are expected along portions of the Florida east coast by late Saturday night and Sunday. Storm surge of two to four feet is likely to be seen between Jupiter Inlet and Ponte Vedra Beach.

Heavy rains and flash urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas in Eastern Florida, are also expected.

According to a weather advisory issued by the Florida Division of Emergency Management at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Isaias remained a Category 1 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. In the Hurricane Warning area, gusts can reach 75 to 90 mph, while it’s forecasted to be 70 mph in the tropical storm warning area.

Heavy rainfall of three to four inches is expected across Florida’s east coast.

President Donald Trump approved Florida’s emergency declaration on Saturday and authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA to mobilize federal disaster relief resources to supplement the state’s response efforts.

Hurricane Isaisa Florida
Anthony Perrone, a south Florida resident, pulls the hurricane shutters closed on his home in preparation for Hurricane Isaias in Lake Worth, Fla., on July 31, 2020. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The FEMA chief also warned that the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, will possibly complicate response to the hurricane.

“Locals and states will need more time if you have to give an evacuation order,” he said. “You’ll need more transportation assets. You’ll need more square footage if decide to put people into congregate settings. You may need to put people that are at risk in non-congregate, so things like hotels and dormitories.”

States, localities, tribes, and territories need to adapt their storm response plans to the new situation, he added.

As one of the hotspot states of the CCP virus outbreak in the United States, Florida reported 9,642 new cases and 179 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday.

As of July 31, there are over 480,000 infection and 7,022 deaths reported in the Sunshine State, Florida Department of Health said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the state was “fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Allen on Twitter: @AllenZM