As Hurricane Michael approaches Florida, those in the path of the monstrous storm have more to worry about than the typical heavy winds and storm surge.

While Michael is currently a Category 1 storm hitting the western edge of Cuba, it is expected to intensify to a major Category 3 before reaching the northeastern Gulf Coast on Wednesday. With winds in excess of 129 mph and life-threatening storm surge, Michael’s approach is not something to ignore.

Florida Governor Rick Scott expanded the recent state of emergency declaration to include a whopping 35 counties. Over 1,000 National Guardsmen have been activated for hurricane duty.

What Rick Scott and many others are neglecting to address, however, may be even more damaging and life-threatening than the hurricane itself.

What seemingly began as a typical red tide event has devastated the state of Florida. While many news outlets, local and national alike, continue to label the situation a red tide, many Florida lifelong residents strongly disagree. For months, residents and tourists have been advised to stay out of the water, to avoid the beaches, and to not breathe air near the water.

The images below, shared by Florida residents to The South Florida Clean Water Movement Facebook group, highlight some of many effects of the devastating situation.

A dead sea turtle washed up near Matlacha Bridge just moments before dozens of people began protesting for clean water.

Posted by Brendon Leslie on Sunday, October 7, 2018

My husband just sent me a message with this picture. "This picture is where I used to keep my little sailboat. The bridge right before the moorings beach."

Posted by Luz Elena Bueno on Monday, October 8, 2018

Posted by Rick Eaton on Monday, October 8, 2018

Posted by Rick Eaton on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Posted by Lori Marlowe on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Posted by Lori Marlowe on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Posted by John G. Heim on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Longtime residents of Florida agree on one thing: this is unlike any red tide in Florida’s history. The affected waters are completely void of life. Dead and decomposing marine life wash up on shore daily. Marinas, estuaries, rivers and more have been found full of thick, green, smelly sludge cover what that is, again, completely void of life.

The so-called red tide has reared its ugly head all along Florida’s shoreline, both on the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts. In addition to that widespread and harmful algae bloom, a devastating algal bloom is occuring in Lake Okeechobee. While these two events are different and unrelated, they are both harmful to marine and human life thanks to a presence of harmful toxins including a dinoflagellate called Karenia brevis and cyanobacteria like Microcystis, Anabaena, and Cylindrospermopsis.

Floridians and visitors that have come in contact with the water have experienced unusual symptoms, sometimes severe. Shortness of breath, coughing, and other breathing problems have been reported throughout the state.

A doctor interviewed by Chris Grisby with Wink News expresses her concern in the video below. She also highlights the likelihood that exposure to the invisible toxins will cause an increase in a host of cancers approximately five years from now.

Harmful Algae Toxins are Airborne and Could Cause Cancer

Doctors are warning people to stay away from toxic algae-infested water, because harmful toxins that could cause cancer are airborne.

Posted by Rick Scott Is Not For Florida on Thursday, September 27, 2018

According to The South Florida Clean Water Movement group, Chris Grisby was recently let go from Wink News for attempting to expose the truth about the supposed red tide.

While there are likely numerous culprits when it comes to the cause of this massive die-off of marine life that has affected not only the ocean but also inland waterways, emotions have shifted from outrage to fear of the unknown as Michael approaches.

Some Florida residents remain hopeful that the advance of Michael with bring fresh, clean water to the area and “flush out” the toxins. Other are speaking out with increasing urgency that, rather than flush out the toxins, the storm may serve as a vehicle to spread the toxic water further inland, further affecting clean water and drinking water sources, in addition to spreading the toxic air and picking up the toxic water and dropping it inland as rain.

It remains to be seen exactly how Michael will affect the dangerous situation currently unfolding in Florida. Whether the storm flushing out the toxic water or spreads the toxins further, the one things we do know is that Floridians should heed the advice of their local authorities when it comes to evacuation and safety procedures and it never hurts to err on the side of being too careful, especially when invisible and harmful toxins are involved.

Unfortunately, after Michael makes landfall on Florida’s northeastern Gulf Coast, the storm is expected to continue north before turning east, traveling up the east coast of the US before losing steam. Residents of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are still recovering from the destruction caused by Hurricane Florence last month.