Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said as Hurricane Irma begins its slow track up the west coast of the state, he's concerned because much of the early preparation and evacuation messaging was focused on Miami and the eastern coast.
"I'm deeply concerned about the Tampa Bay region because they have not got — the [preparation and evacuation] warnings really only started to be amplified Friday night for them," Rubio told CBS's "Face the Nation."
"And so even as late as last night, we were talking to people we know personally and others about the move, and it's been so long since the Tampa Bay region has had a storm, that some people perhaps have no memory of what it's like to be through one of these," Rubio said. "And by the way, storm surge doesn't come until the storm passes."
Storm surge is defined by the National Ocean Service as, "the abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, measured as the height of the water above the normal predicted astronomical tide."
Rubio added he thought more people in Florida were taking extra precautions or were evacuating because of the multiple days of devastating images coming from the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which swept over the Texas Gulf Coast two weeks ago.
"The problem we have is, there's nowhere to move, the whole state is being impacted by this," Rubio said.
Earlier Sunday morning, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said because the storm tracked into the Gulf instead of moving along the eastern shore, the agency was most worried about residents being prepared for storm surge.
Forecasters believe Irma will be directly impacting the Tampa Bay region by Sunday evening, then moving to the Florida panhandle by early Monday morning, and impacting southern Georgia and Alabama just hours later.