Time to hunker down.

As Hurricane Ian tracks directly toward the Florida mainland, state and federal authorities cooperated in preparing for both the storm and aftermath that increasingly appears inevitable.

President Joe Biden has already approved a state of emergency for much of Florida. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced federal aid has been made available to supplement state, tribe and local resources spent preparing for the storm since Friday, Sept. 23. The authorization covers 24 counties included in an initial emergency declaration from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has since expanded his own executive order to cover the entire state.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sent a letter to Biden on behalf of the Florida delegation calling for swift support from the administration. “Ensuring that the state has access to the federal resources it needs is imperative to protecting Floridians, property, and our communities,” the letter read. “The storm’s track and expected intensity could make it a major hurricane prior to an anticipated landfall.”

DeSantis said he appreciated the rapid initial authorization by the President, signaling lockstep between the state and federal administrations. FEMA authorization ahead of the storm also covers the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Reimbursements are expected in the wake of Ian’s landfall.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts signal a growing likelihood Ian will make landfall on Florida’s West Coast as a major Category 3 hurricane. The Dry Tortugas could feel that impact as soon as today, while mainland Florida should brace for the storm to make landfall sometime Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. In the meantime, meteorologists predict life-threatening storm surge, with threats especially potent between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers.

So, what federal resources will be available to Florida once Ian strikes? Plenty.

FEMA is pre-positioning supplies and personnel in Florida and Alabama who will be dispatched to storm-struck areas as soon as possible. Supplies being staged at Maxwell Airforce Base include 3.5 million liters of water and 3.6 million meals. Supplies in Alabama include more than a million liters of water, 480,000 meals and 7,200 cots.

The federal agency has 4,000 reservists waiting to be deployed, and another 7,500 designated Surge Capacity Force members to dispatch if needed. Response coordination centers have been activated in Washington and Atlanta to coordinate FEMA resources, including three Incident Management Teams in waiting at the Georgia center. FEMA also has an Urban Search and Rescue Team at the ready in Florida, as well as two Incident Support Teams, one already in Florida and one in Alabama. Florida also activated 2,500 National Guard members to support state response.

The Army Corps of Engineers also plans to have a power restoration team in place at Craig Field outside Selma, Alabama, which will have 117 power generators staged.

Additional fuel supplies are being amassed at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

The Health and Human Services Department deployed a National Disaster Medical System into Florida, along with two health and medical task forces. FEMA also activated a contract for 52 ambulances and 100 paratransit seats, which will all be staged at the Orange County Convention Center.

Island meteorology

While Florida deals with one incoming hurricane, many leaders with ties to Puerto Rico remain concerned about the aftermath of another. Rep. Val Demings, the Democratic candidate for Senate, traveled this weekend to the island leading a congressional group to oversee recovery from Hurricane Fiona. She was joined on the island with, among others, Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto, whose Central Florida district has a high concentration of Puerto Rican transplants.

“Rescue and recovery teams are continuing to work,” she tweeted from the ground. “We’re going to fight for families and communities in Puerto Rico to get everything they need to rebuild after Fiona. I’m on the ground leading a congressional oversight mission to make sure of it.”

Upon returning to the mainland, Demings also held a roundtable with diaspora leaders on the island’s resiliency. She held the gathering with state Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat, and Padre Jose Rodriguez at Iglesia Episcopal Jesús de Nazaret in Orlando. That meeting took place on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico, a disaster from which the U.S. territory is still recovering.

By erick