Pinellas County Continues Preparing for Irma
Sandbags will be available again today (Sept. 7) starting at 7 a.m.
PINELLAS COUNTY – More than 42,500 sandbags had distributed to residents of the unincorporated area and more than 2,181 calls had been handled at Citizen Information Center by close of business Wednesday (Sept. 6), according to Pinellas County officials.
Officials planned to continue monitoring Hurricane Irma and helping to prepare residents for the potential local impacts today (Sept. 7) as residents across Florida brace for possible landfall of the storm over the weekend.
Based on updated information from the National Weather Service Wednesday afternoon, Emergency Management is still looking at possible impact scenarios for Pinellas and evaluating the potential for evacuations up to Level C (which, if needed, would include mobile home parks and those in zones A, B and C). Residents in those areas should actively continue their planning and preparation. Updated weather forecasts will provide more guidance to make a decision about some level of evacuation, if necessary, as the storm makes a potential turn later in the week.
All storm scenarios are anticipated to bring increased rain, wind and the possibility of storm surge to Pinellas County. Emergency Management officials will continue to monitor storm updates to identify when a more certain track can be determined. The Pinellas County Commission will hold a special meeting this morning to discuss Irma’s track, evaluate potential impacts and timing, and consider the possibility of emergency orders and evacuations. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the county’s Public Safety Complex, located at 10750 Ulmerton Road, in Largo.
To help residents with their preparations, the County opened the Citizen Information Center on Tuesday (Sept. 5) and opened sandbag operations at three park locations. A fourth sandbag location at Walsingham Park in Seminole will open at 7 a.m. today, along with the rest of the parks offering sandbags. If residents choose to go to Walsingham Park, they are asked to enter from 102nd Avenue.
By 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a total of more than 52,500 sandbags had been distributed, with 42,500 distributed on Wednesday, alone. The call center has handled more than 2,181 calls as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, with a majority advising residents about their evacuation level, preparation tips and signing up more than 1,000 special needs residents for transportation to shelters or medical facilities. If residents with special needs require transportation or other evacuation assistance, they should call the CIC at (727) 464-4333.
Sandbag operations will resume Thursday at 7 a.m. at all four locations. As a reminder, sandbags are recommended for rainfall flooding, and not for storm surge.
The other three sandbag sites are at:
- John Chesnut Sr. Park, 2200 East Lake Road in Palm Harbor
- Lealman Community Park, 3890 55th Ave. N
- Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. SW in Largo
Sandbags will be limited to 20 per person. Material and bags will be supplied. Residents must fill their own sandbags. Shovels will be available. The sandbag distribution locations will be open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The CIC will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Residents can call the CIC at (727) 464-4333 to get preparedness information including how to look up their evacuation zone. Spanish-speaking call-takers will be available.
Residents may also go to pinellascounty.org to review preparedness plans, look up their evacuation and storm surge level, shelter information—including special needs and pet shelters—and sign up for emergency notifications through the Alert Pinellas and Ready Pinellas apps.
Pinellas County Utilities reminds residents to limit water use during a storm. Residents are urged to do laundry and other tasks that use water before any rain begins to fall to reduce the amount of water in the system.
Emergency Management also reminds residents that preparations to protect window and door openings are recommended for wind protection.
Fo information about hurricane preparations, go to Pinellas County Emergency Management’s website at pinellascounty.org/emergency.
File photo does not show Hurricane Irma.
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