Tropical Storm Idalia, which was once a Category 3 hurricane, has left more than 250,000 customers without power in Georgia and South Carolina as it continues to move toward Florida’s Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to make landfall on Wednesday as a major hurricane, bringing potentially catastrophic winds, heavy rain and flooding to the state.
Idalia has already caused severe damage and flooding in Cuba, where more than 8,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas. The storm also disrupted air travel, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights in and out of Florida. Airlines have waived change fees for passengers affected by the storm.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 counties, urging residents to prepare for the storm and evacuate if necessary. He warned that Idalia could bring a life-threatening storm surge of up to 12 feet above normal tide levels in some parts of the Big Bend region.
Idalia is the first storm to hit Florida this hurricane season and the latest in a summer of natural disasters, including wildfires, droughts and floods across the world. The National Hurricane Center advised people to follow the instructions of local officials and stay safe.