Canada: Hurricane Fiona destroys homes in Port Aux Basques

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Hurricane Ian is now producing winds of 125mph with heavy rain, strong winds and a life-threatening storm surge already passing over Cuba as it moves towards the US. It has now been upgraded to a category 3 major hurricane as the sustained gusts continue developing before it even touches down in Florida. American forecasters Accuweather have branded Ian as the “strongest hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 2017”, which has been cited by research from Colorado State University. While the Sunshine State has been spared destruction, for now, people are taking drastic measures to bolster their homes, stock up on essential supplies and set up safety refuges in the projected worst-hit areas.

Pictures have emerged of residents queuing around the block to get into their nearest supermarket, and even once inside stock on most shelves has been depleted due to panic buying. 

People are battening down hatches, boarding up shop fronts and hatching plans to ensure safety of loved ones and the communities.

Some are even choosing to flee the area, with some pictures showing evacuation route signage in St Petersburg. Ian is projected to make its closest pass to the Tampa Bay area tomorrow, September 28, with current tracking putting the centre 25 miles west of the coastline and northern bound along the Atlantic seaboard. 

With this pathway almost certain, mandatory evacuation orders have been made in the Tampa area – including Hillsborough County – where evacuation shelters have been set up. 

Across Tampa Bay, there will be three different kinds of shelters; ranging from those who generally need them, to people with pets and special needs. 

Those who will need to lean on the support of the general shelter for the greater population are asked to bring their own essentials such as food, water, medication and any other relevant supplies. 

For those needing the shelter with their pets, people are asked to bring proof of current rabies vaccinations for a cat or dog – with owners being reminded that they are still responsible for their animals when inside the shelter. 

Meanwhile, power companies are making plans as they expect “widespread outages”. 

According to the BBC, Cuban authorities declared emergencies in six areas with tens of thousands of people seeking shelter.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has warned of “broad impacts throughout the state” but has urged people to remain calm – and do whatever is needed to be prepared.

The governor declared a state of emergency for all of Florida over the weekend and has activated 5,000 National Guard troops to assist with relief efforts.

The National Hurricane Center said: “Ian is expected to be a major hurricane in the eastern Gulf of Mexico during the middle of this week. Regardless of Ian’s track and intensity, there is a risk of a life-threatening storm surge hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of this week.”

The Hurricane Center added: “Considerable flooding impacts are possible mid-to-late week in central Florida given already saturated antecedent conditions, and flash and urban flooding is possible with rainfall across the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula through mid-week.

“Tropical storm conditions are forecast to reach the west-central Florida coast Tuesday night, with hurricane conditions possible on Wednesday.”

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