Gov. DeSantis holds briefing on Hurricane Dorian

Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center on Friday, August 30, 2019.

Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center on Friday, August 30, 2019.

As Hurricane Dorian’s potential track toward Florida narrowed Friday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects evacuation announcements in some of Florida’s most threatened counties to be issued Saturday.

But he didn’t wait to warn that people should heed those orders when they arrive.

“If you are in an evacuation zone and there is a mandatory evacuation order, please heed that call,” DeSantis said at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, flanked by state Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and National Guard Adjutant General James Eifert. “There is a danger to your life if you remain in these evacuation zones.”

The counties he cited include Palm Beach, Brevard, Martin, Indian River, and St. Lucie, along the central part of Florida’s east coast, where forecasters said Hurricane Dorian could heavily impact the region.

Shortly after DeSantis’ briefing, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey announced via Facebook video that a mandatory evacuation order for the county’s barrier island would be declared Sunday morning, according to Florida Today. The order will apply to residents in flood-prone areas, manufactured and mobile home residents, residents on the island’s beachside and those with special needs.

Evacuation orders for these counties could put hundreds of thousands of people from those counties on the road — the total population for the five counties is 2.7 million. But evacuation orders are often issued by zones based on flooding risk and not all residents affected comply.

Moskowitz said he expects that tolls will be lifted on major roadways when the evacuation announcements are made.

The storm was upgraded to a Category 4 late Friday night. Florida’s central coast can expect to feel tropical storm-force winds Sunday or Monday.

The storm could also bring potential storm surge heights of up to six feet from Miami to Palm Beach, and up to 11 feet along the Treasure Coast. Officials project those storm surges and Dorian’s potential heavy rainfall could cause significant flooding to major roadways along the evacuation route after the storm.

Moskowitz said the state is putting a hundred pumps, acquired through the Army Corps of Engineers, along those routes in the event of such floods.

DeSantis added state officials are also coordinating with county governments in advance of potential evacuations.

This story has been updated. Miami Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

Elizabeth Koh is a state government reporter in the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times’ Tallahassee bureau, where she covers health care politics and policy (and the occasional hurricane). A Brown University graduate, she has also covered local politics for the Washington Post and national politics for the Dallas Morning News’ D.C. bureau.

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