Mandatory evacuations are under way in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the Florida Panhandle as Hurricane Michael approaches.
The evacuation orders went into effect Tuesday morning for some 120,000 people near the beach and other areas of Bay County. During an emergency meeting of the Bay County Commission on Monday night, Sheriff Tommy Ford said people will “not be dragged out of their homes,” but reminded those who stay that first responders may not be able to reach them once the storm hits.
Ford says “people need to start leaving now,” adding that the roads are going to get “more and more congested as time goes on.”
Commissioner Bill Dozier also reminded anyone staying behind to stock up on supplies and “don’t expect the government to help take care of you. You need to take care of yourselves.”
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hurricane Michael was centered about 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Panama City at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
The center is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday.