'Just evacuate': Hillsborough County residents seek shelter ahead of Hurricane Ian

Hillsborough County leaders issued mandatory evacuations for residents living in Zone A ahead of potential impacts from Hurricane Ian.

Emergency management officials said this isn’t a decision they take lightly and encourage people to head the warning. People who live in mandatory evacuation zones said they don’t want to take any chances.

"If somebody is telling you to evacuate, just evacuate. If you're not a veteran at this, and you don't know that your house is 100% ready for this, just go take shelter elsewhere and be safe," Austin Albury said. "You know, I know everybody says it. It's a cliché, but, you know, you can buy your things again and everything will be all right. Just get out of here and keep yourself safe."

MORE: County by county: Hurricane Ian emergency information

If you can’t stay with family or friends, several evacuation shelters are now open throughout the county. The county operates three types of shelters during an emergency: General population emergency shelters, pet friendly emergency shelters and special needs shelters.

"We are setting up today for Hurricane Ian. We're getting ready to welcome the public. Some of the things that you should expect once you're here, once we get you checked in, first of all, you should expect long lines," Jeffrey Huggins, Hillsborough County shelter manager, said.

If you do need an evacuation shelter, keep in mind, evacuation shelters don’t have cots. Bring water, snacks and medical supplies. Don't bring alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, weapons.

Emergency leaders said you should plan to stay in shelters for several days.

For information on shelter locations, click here