Israelis hunker down during Hurricane Idalia in Florida

They say the storm was not as severe as they expected; There were long lines in stores and empty shelves, though

Itamar Eichner, Associated Press|

Hurricane Idalia - Jacksonville, Florida
(צילום: Avi Avni)

Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, defined as a Category 3 storm. Before reaching the west coast of Florida, it was defined as a Category 4 hurricane – by late Wednesday morning the storm was already pushing into Georgia. Florida authorities continue to warn that of danger in the aftermath of the storm which has caused cause serious damage in the state and left serious destruction in its wake.
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A Chabad emissary in Tallahassee, Florida, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Oirechman said he made preparations for the hurricane on Tuesday.
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Rabbi Schneur Zalman Oirechman from Chabad Tallahassee is ready
Rabbi Schneur Zalman Oirechman from Chabad Tallahassee is ready
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Oirechman from Chabad Tallahassee provides food for Jewish students stuck there for the hurricane
"Today the storm is hitting," the rabbi said. "There are four large universities here - the largest of which has 50,000 students - all closed, most of the students left. Everything is closed; we bought water, flashlights, batteries, candles, sealed windows and canned goods. There were long lines in stores and empty shelves. Some people had power outages, trees fell."
The Chabad rabbi has been looking out for the Jewish students stuck in Tallahassee for the storm.
"There were Jewish students who tried to return home and drove 11 and a half hours and they had to turn back because they couldn't continue because of the wind. Yesterday they we came to them and we took care of food for them. We will see today what will happen during the storm. People may have to sleep in the Chabad house. We are preparing with a generator and to give food to people."
Rotem Raz, an Israeli student studying at a university in Tallahassee, is sheltering in place.
"The storm is giving its signals, but not in a severe way, just strong winds and rain. There are no floods or power outages so far, but in South Tallahassee I heard that there are," he told Ynet early on Wednesday.
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Hurricane Idalia makes landfall on Florida's coast
Hurricane Idalia makes landfall on Florida's coast
Hurricane Idalia makes landfall on Florida's coast
(Photo: NOAA via AFP)
Avi Avni from Jacksonville told Ynet that: "Right now there are strong winds. A little rain. Not much. We thought there would be much more. You never know how it will develop. The storms here change direction in an instant. Right now there is wind that comes and goes. But it is not as strong as it was last season. We have our emergency team here and we are prepared."
The storm has unleashed devastation along a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast, submerging homes and vehicles, turning streets into rivers, unmooring small boats and downing power lines in an area that has never before received such a pummeling, the Associated Press reported.
“Don’t put your life at risk by doing anything dumb at this point,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “This thing’s powerful. If you’re inside, just hunker down until it gets past you.”
Winds shredded signs, sent sheet metal flying and snapped tall trees.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend. The state has still been dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian.
Downed power lines closed northbound Interstate 75 just south of Valdosta, Georgia, where the storm hit and was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.
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Flooded streets in Hurricane Idalia assault
Flooded streets in Hurricane Idalia assault
Flooded streets in Hurricane Idalia assault
(Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images )
The concern now deals with storm surge, whose waves could rise as high as 16 feet (4.9 meters) in some places. Some counties implemented curfews to keep residents off roads.
Idalia had grown into a Category 2 system on Tuesday afternoon and became a Category 3 just hours earlier Wednesday before strengthening to a Category 4 and then weakening slightly to a high-end Category 3.
Hurricanes are measured on a five category scale, with a Category 5 being the strongest. A Category 3 storm is the first on the scale considered a major hurricane and the National Hurricane Center says a Category 4 storm brings “catastrophic damage.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently said the 2023 hurricane season would be far busier than initially forecast, partly because of extremely warm ocean temperatures. The season runs through Nov. 30, with August and September typically the peak.
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