'Ready to go': Floridians told to prepare for Hurricane Nicole month after catastrophic Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Nicole formed early Monday morning northeast of the Bahamas and is expected to strengthen as it brings prolonged rain, wind and coastal flooding impacts to Florida and the southeastern U.S. this week.
Hurricane Nicole is threatening some of the same areas that were impacted by Hurricane Ian more than a month ago, and emergency officials are urging people along Florida's east coast to prepare for the storm.
Nicole formed early Monday morning northeast of the Bahamas and is expected to strengthen as it brings prolonged rain, wind and coastal flooding impacts to Florida and the southeastern U.S. this week.
Nicole is a hurricane, and will approach the east coast of Florida Wednesday night. But regardless of its strength, Nicole is a very large storm, which means significant impacts will be far-reaching and persist for several days.
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One of the concerns for emergency management officials is flooding.
Florida's longest river, the St. John's River, flows from south to north on the eastern side of the state. The river experienced flooding during Hurricane Ian and hasn't fully receded.
"We've got that onshore flow that's coming in, already starting to back up the St. John's River and its normal flow out into the Atlantic Ocean," said Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida Division of Emergency Management. "That's going to have a ripple effect all the way down the river, and we will see that maybe not necessarily rise, but certainly become stagnant."
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Guthrie said the rise in the river will come from any of the rain that is associated with Hurricane Nicole, but more about expected rainfall totals will be known over the next day or so.
"We are going to have urban search and rescue crews, swift water rescue crews on standby, ready to respond to anything that happens in the central Florida or St. John's River area," Guthrie said.
Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 'ready to go'
Hurricane Nicole is threatening the Sunshine State just over a month after Hurricane Ian slammed into Southwest Florida as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph.
Emergency crews spent weeks combing through rubble and debris looking for victims, and Guthrie said crews are ready to respond to Nicole if they're needed.
"I'll tell you, the Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces here in the state of Florida are second to none," he said. "I'll put them up against any team in the United States, but they're also some of the most resilient team members we have."
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Guthrie said the teams go from disaster to disaster, and even respond to other catastrophes across the country if they're needed.
"They've had a few weeks off. They've been able to rehab their equipment and get ready to go again," he said. "We've been assured that they are ready to go again."
However, Guthrie said the Fort Myers team likely wouldn't be used due to the direct impacts of Hurricane Ian in that area.
"But the other seven urban search and rescue teams around the state of Florida are ready to go, and they're all ready to get in the fight if they need to," Guthrie said.