LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Pinellas County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents in zones A, B, and C, including all residents in mobile homes.

The mandatory order for Zone A will take effect at 6 p.m. Monday while the order for Zones B and C will take effect at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

County officials said residents and visitors who are planning to leave the county should do so immediately due to anticipated heavy traffic.

As of this report, Pinellas County is under a Hurricane and Storm Surge watch.

Cathie Perkins, director of Pinellas County Emergency Management urged residents to make sure what zone they are in because changes were made.

“Don’t assume because you might have been outside of a zone last year, your zone hasn’t changed,” Perkins said. “It changed for a significant amount of people.”

The director said that Ian’s impact will be worse than what people saw for Hurricane Eta. She also said that the county is expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain, and with the ground being saturated, there will be “significant flooding” as well.

“The bad piece of news we got this morning is that this storm is trending to slow down which means it could potentially sit on top of us for 47 hours,” Perkins said. “That’s a lot of rain, and it’s not going to be able to drain out quickly.”

Perkins said that those who live in areas at risk of storm surges or in mobile homes should prepare for evacuation.

“This is not a joke,” she said. “This is life-threatening storm surge.”

The county has already begun reaching out to those with special needs, hospitals, and long-term care facilities to see if they need evacuation. For the long-term care facilities, Perkins recommended that they begin evacuating Monday.

“We’re already seeing some of our hospitals doing that,” she said.

Perkins said general population shelters, which are pet friendly, will be open at 6 p.m. Monday at Ross Norton Community Center in Clearwater, Largo High School, and Lealman Exchange Community Center in St. Petersburg. Addresses for these shelters can be found here.

Special needs shelters will open Monday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. Residents with special needs who require transportation to a safe location until the storm threat passes can sign up by calling the County Information Center at 727-464-4333.

Three general population shelters, including one allowing pets, will open Monday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m.:

  • Ross Norton Recreation Center (1426 S, MLK Jr. Ave. Clearwater), and
  • Lealman Exchange (5175 45th St. N., St. Petersburg)
  • Largo High School (410 Missouri Ave. N., Largo) – pets allowed

Additional shelters will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. Locations can be found here.