SAN DIEGO — Powerful winds slammed Tampa, Florida as Hurricane Ian made landfall south of Hillsborough County.
Kathleen Parra is a FOX 5 employee who is in Tampa on vacation. It’s unfortunately bad timing for Parra, but she shared with us the unnerving experience of preparing for the unknown.
“This definitely does unlock a new level of fear of not knowing if I’m going to come home. Right now, airports have closed. My flight has been canceled,” Parra said.
By midday Wednesday, FlightAware data showed about 2,100 US flight cancelations nationwide. The bulk of the flights were out of southwest Florida’s three major airports.
Parra says she’s been listening to the news non-stop and watching videos to learn how to prepare for the worst.
“It’s mainly about just trying to stay away from windows, trying to listen to the news as much as we can before the electricity is shut off, trying to have your cell phones charged in case we do have to evacuate,” she said.
When they went to bed last night, forecasters said Ian would hit Tampa as a category four, but this morning the news is better – it’s expected to be a category one. Still, they are ready either way.
“We designated a room downstairs to be our ‘safe room’ or ‘escape room,’ so we obviously have pillows, we have blankets in there, we have all the nonperishable food items inside a box, we have medicine as well,” Parra said.
Back in San Diego, the Red Cross is also preparing. Right now, they have 12 volunteers ready to go — six already on their way and another six on standby.
Jane Scanlon, is the Shelter Lead for the San Diego Red Cross, “They actually can’t fly into Florida right now so they’re just waiting for the airports to open. When we say leave, you have to leave within 24 hours, and you are going to commit to two weeks,” said Jane Scanlon, a shelter lead for the San Diego Red Cross.