'People are nervous': Floridians head to Philly as Hurricane Ian bares down on Gulf Coast

As Hurricane Ian bares down on Florida, some Floridians have heeded warnings from forecasters and headed to the Philadelphia-area to seek shelter. 

Jilly Cohen, a freshman who was just weeks into her first semester at the University of Tampa, arrived at Philadelphia International Airport after snagging the last seat on a plane. 

"It's crazy right now, all the flights are insane, there are, like, no flights," said Cohen who was evacuated to her home in Maryland when the university closed down. 

Hurricane Ian will slow down over the Gulf of Mexico, growing wider and stronger, "which will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts along the west coast of Florida," the hurricane center said.

A surge of up to 10 feet (3 meters) of ocean water and 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain was predicted across the Tampa Bay area, with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) inches in isolated areas. That's enough water to inundate coastal communities.

As many as 300,000 people may be evacuated from low-lying areas in Hillsborough County alone, county administrator Bonnie Wise said. Some of those evacuations were beginning Monday afternoon in the most vulnerable areas, with schools and other locations opening as shelters.

Floridians lined up for hours in Tampa to collect bags of sand and cleared store shelves of bottled water. Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide emergency and warned that Ian could lash large areas of the state, knocking out power and interrupting fuel supplies as it swirls northward off the state’s Gulf Coast.

"People are nervous," Mary Beth Defrusio said. "My nephew couldn’t find plywood, store shelves are totally empty and people are starting to panic."

The hurricane center has advised Floridians to have survival plans in place and monitor updates of the storm’s evolving path.