OAKLAND, Calif. - Power outages, downed trees, and tornados gave Florida residents a preview of the Hurricane Ian's destructive power as it barreled toward the eastern Gulf Coast overnight Tuesday with a potential Cat 4 force.
Images from Broward County in southern Florida showed branches ripped from tree trunks, crashing onto cars due to a potential tornado.
Evacuation orders were issued, affecting some 2.5 million people in Florida, as Governor Ron DeSantis told residents to leave evacuation zones immediately.
"If you are in an evacuation zone particularly in those southwest Florida counties, your time to evacuate is coming to an end. You need to evacuated now," said DeSantis, "There will be catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge in the Gulf Coast region."
There is also concern about the hurricane spawning tornadoes.
"Tropical tornadoes will occur very quickly. They will happen overnight tonight and will occur during heavy rain. You will not be able to see them coming,," said Kevin Guthrie, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Late Tuesday night, video from the North Perry Airport in Hollywood, Florida near Fort Lauderdale shows more than 15 planes damaged by suspected tornado. Several aircraft were flipped over, others had wings twisted.
At a late night news conference, Gov. DeSantis said the Florida Highway Patrol might begin closing bridges as early as Wednesday.
DeSantis also said 8,000 residents had lost power Tuesday night, and warned that millions more customers could lose power when the storm moved onto land.
Passengers scrambled Tuesday to get flights out of Florida.
Orlando International Airport plans to stop all commercial flights at 10:30 Wednesday morning.
"It's a little nerve-wracking because everybody is trying to get out," said Adrian Adams, a passenger who was trying to catch a flight home to Indiana.
At SFO, spokesman Doug Yakel said several Florida flights had already been canceled.
One man named Anthony arrived in San Francisco and said he rushed to leave Florida, worried he'd be stuck and miss his son's wedding in Napa.
"We didn't know if we would be able to get out, so we decided we had to do that because my son's wedding is on Saturday," said Anthony, "My kids, ex-wife were leaving. They left at 2 o'clock in the morning, I left 4 o'clock in the morning to get out."
Walt Disney World announced it is close theme parks on Wednesday, and Thursday,
Concern is mounting that the storm could cause major power outages for millions of customers in Florida.
President Biden promised federal aid to local and state officials in Florida.
"I told each one of them, my conversation separately, whatever they need. I mean this sincerely. Whatever they need, contact me directly," said President Biden.
As monster storm, Hurricane Ian, stalks the Sunshine State, many government agencies, healthcare professionals, foundations and companies in California are waiting to see if they will be needed. As each minute passes, Hurricane Ian draws enormous power from the warm sea.
In Hurricane Ian's path are more than 5 million coastal Floridians in the 250 miles from Key West to the Tampa Bay metroplex; one of the nation's longest, low level elevations. "In this scenario, we're talking about the potential of a 6 to a 10-foot wall of water potentially going a mile inland," said Mark Neveau, an emergency response expert.
Under a Presidential Emergency Disaster, FEMA is sent in to coordinate any and all needs the state might have beyond its own resources. And so, that brought in a specific type one incident Management Team. There's only three of them in the country," said Neveau.
FEMA calls in whatever expertise it can.
"There are 28 FEMA Task Forces throughout the United States. There are eight in the state of California. We are one of them," said Menlo Park Fire District Chief Mark Lorenzen.
Not yet called up, Menlo Park's 90-member Task Force draws from 16 fire agencies from San Francisco to the South Bay. "We are up and ready to go based on what the impacts are from the hurricane. Deployment is dependent on FEMA's decisions," said the Chief.
If summoned, the 90-person team, within four to six hours, would fly on military aircraft, likely from Travis Air Force Base which told us it's on standby mode. Also, not called up yet, Pacific Gas and Electric's mutual aid crews, some already deployed to Puerto Rico's power restoration.
For Floridians, such as Tim Tullis, who lives just south of Tampa, it's wait and watch and worry about this. "Winds of 90 miles an hour or more; gusts up to 125. Rainfall ranging 7 to 15 inches," said Sarasota-Bradenton resident.
What's not going on at the lake behind his home is ominous. "Beautiful tropical birds mostly, and it's usually very busy all during the daylight hours. It is now totally devoid of any wildlife," said Tullis.
Wait, watch and worry, indeed.
Storm Surge Watches and Warnings are in effect along the path of Hurricane Ian. (FOX Weather)