People in Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, shouldn't leave their homes to check out the damages in the community for themselves, as that could hamper rescue and recovery efforts, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister tells Newsmax.
"They let their curiosity get the best of themselves," Chronister, whose county includes the city of Tampa, told Newsmax's "Wake Up America" on Thursday, the day after the monster hurricane roared into south Florida. "They want to go out and about and all they do is create another safety hazard."
Work is going on to open the roads and to clear power lines, he added, and "if they just stay at home, we'll be able to be that much more expeditious, get power restored, open those roadways, allow businesses to open, and get back to normal as expeditiously as possible."
The sheriff said he's spoken to his fellow sheriffs in Charlotte and Lee Counties, where the storm made landfall, "and they informed me it's a total, catastrophic loss."
"We will be sending help down to south Florida, helping the residents there, but we're still assessing storm damage," said Chronister, noting that he was "happy, extremely proud" that in his county, there were still people being processed into shelters at the last minute.
"Driving through Tampa today, I saw a lot of downed trees, a lot of power lines," he said. "There are 300,000 people here still without power."
Further, he said flooding will get worse in the southern part of his county, as the grounds become saturated and water ends up in the rivers, which have a flood level of 11 feet but are expected to rise to almost 25 feet.
As for the power, Chronister said he expects that will be restored quickly.
"The Tampa Electric Company did a wonderful job of doing targeted disruptions," he said. "I never heard of that before … they were already shutting down some power grids. They thought it would save the equipment at the storm surge, and the rain would fry equipment and would take eight months to replace the equipment here. They could shut it down, and save it from being so significantly damaged that they'd be able to restore power that much quicker."
The use of drones is also a great asset in the storm recovery efforts, said Chronister.
"We can launch a drone, and it costs us a couple of dollars for the fuel or to use the battery life and take a look at stuff and get into places [while] our aviation units are still grounded," he said. "We still have 30 miles per hour winds here, sustained winds … we already have the drones up now. Well, we're hoping to have the aviation unit up by tomorrow to assess some of the flooding, but drones are an absolute game changer."
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