Residents who are still in Florida are being battered by Hurricane Michael, which made landfall Wednesday afternoon.
“Hurricane Michael is a deadly Category 4 storm. This is the worst storm that the Florida Panhandle has seen in more than 100 years,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Due to the damage from storm surge along the northeastern Gulf Coast and winds of 145 mph, 120,000 people were ordered to evacuate.
“Upwards of 8- to 12-foot storm surge is expected, so there could be some significant low-lying flooding in coastal areas,” said National Weather Service liaison Ken Widelski.
While originally a Category 1 storm, Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane just hours before it was set to make landfall.
Michael’s conditions are similar to those of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas last year as a Category 4 storm that packed 130 mph winds and left 68 people dead.
Despite warnings and forecasts of destructive conditions, many residents decided to stay.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2018
Governors and local officials have authority to issue mandatory evacuation orders when public safety is at stake.
In Florida, the governor is able to order a mandatory evacuation, but it’s unclear how the rules and regulations are enforced.
In some states, like Virginia and North Carolina, it’s a misdemeanor to refuse a mandatory evacuation order.
While there may be no civil implications for staying, Gov. Rick Scott reiterated the dangers of remaining in a hurricane evacuation zone.
“We’re going to do everything we can and send people out to keep people safe. I’m praying to God people will be safe.”