Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida — NJ stands ready to help
As Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida teams from New Jersey are standing by to help with relief efforts as a New Jersey native watches her neighborhood flood.
The storm was a Category 3 storm with winds of 130 mph, extreme flooding and a 7-16 foot storm surge as it came ashore in the Big Bend region north of Tampa on Wednesday morning around 7:30.
Former Long Branch resident Jasmine Rodriguez who now lives in Hudson Beach north of Tampa told New Jersey 101.5 that her home was already flooded Wednesday morning and residents elsewhere in town were being evacuated. There was also a house fire in the area which flood waters made difficult for firefighters to reach.
"Absolutely devastating," Rodriguez said.
New Jersey Task Force 1, Red Cross volunteers standing by
Two American Red Cross New Jersey volunteers from Monmouth County are already in Tallahassee waiting to find out where they will be sent to help with sheltering efforts, according to spokeswoman Diane Concannon. Another pair of volunteers from Camden and Mercer counties drove an Emergency Response Vehicle to Florida on Wednesday.
The vehicles can be used to distribute food, supplies and information in neighborhoods when residents are able to return to their homes. At least 45 vehicles from Red Cross chapters around the country are in Tallahassee ready to be deployed throughout the area affected by Idalia.
Forty-five members of New Jersey’s Task Force arrived in Columbia, South Carolina, Tuesday to wait out the storm and prepare for deployment to assist with recovery from the storm’s expected damage. They are not just sitting around, according to Task Force 1 spokeswoman Laura Connolly.
"They're actually linked up with New York's Task Force 1 so they're having meetings with them. They'll do different training like radio trainings, map trainings. They're always keeping busy," Connolly said. "They have the K9s with them so they'll train with other K9 units. They're always doing stuff."
Idalia's impact on New Jersey
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the storm's center will eject from the South Carolina coast into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday. That will be Idalia's closest pass to New Jersey.
"It's near enough to spit some showers and clouds at South Jersey, but we will be spared any severe weather impacts here," Zarrow said.
Hurricane Franklin still affecting the Jersey Shore
Red flags are flying again at New Jersey beaches as Hurricane Franklin’s 115 mph winds continue to create life-threatening surf and rip currents along the east coast as tracks east.
"It seems like rough surf and rip currents are always a problem in late August. And the ocean will stay angry for a few more days, as Hurricane Franklin departs and Idalia reenters open waters," Zarrow said.
Flight cancellations at Newark Liberty have been minimal with just over a dozen departures and another dozen arrivals canceled, according to FlightAware.com.