Manatee County gives out sandbags, events postponed.
While Hurricane Irma continues to brew into an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane, East County residents have begun preparations in case the storm veers this direction.
River Club’s Daryl Bernstein said he would rather be “safe than sorry,” as he scrambled to markets on Tuesday in search of vital supplies.
Bernstein was at BJ’s Wholesale in Sarasota shopping with other concerned residents.
“I’ve been looking for water and batteries but they seem to be sold out everywhere,” Bernstein said. “We aren’t planning on evacuating, but I’m here because my wife, Lauren, is a lot more worried than I am.”
Sarasota’s Rick Hughes said he was staying put in his "hurricane-protected" home.
Even so, he was shopping for necessary items that might not be available in a few more days as the hurricane approaches.
“I’m trying to get water and batteries for the fans since we are all addicted to air conditioning here,” Hughes said.
Water is running out quickly in East County.
The Super Target on Cattleman Road, BJ’s Wholesale, various Publix locations and Walmart off State Road 70 were all out of water Tuesday and waiting for a new shipment.
“It has been hard finding stuff,” Hughes said. “I went to Walmart this morning at 6 a.m. and there was tons of water. I just went back on my lunch break and there was none left.”
Manatee County officials are encouraging local residents to monitor the storm closely and make plans.
"We strongly urge residents and visitors to implement their personal plans," Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Sherilyn Burris said in a press release. "Now is the time. The storm still has a lot of forecast uncertainty, so don't wait until it's too late to make a plan."
As of now, there are no plans for an evacuation or shelter openings, but Burris advised local residents to monitor the news and the county's social media pages for updates.
Manatee County Commissioners are expected to declare a local state of emergency Wednesday during an 8 a.m. meeting to discuss the hurricane. According to a release on Tuesday, "the local declaration is the first step local officials must take before opening hurricane shelters or ordering evacuation notices."
Residents can follow Manatee County on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov. Follow Manatee County Emergency Management at http://www.facebook.com/ManateeCountyEmergencyManagement and on Twitter @MCGPublicSafety.
The Manatee County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 2101 47th Terrace E., Bradenton has been partially activated and is expected to be fully activated on Wednesday.
Public Safety officials reminded Manatee County residents to call the Citizens Information Center at (941) 749-3547 with questions or to report issues related to Hurricane Irma. 911 should only be used in emergencies.
The county will be distributing sandbags from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at Lakewood Ranch Park, located at 5350 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and additionally at Stormwater Ops, 5511 39th Street East, Bradenton.
For those who have pets, the Animal Rescue Coalition, 6320 Town Lane, Sarasota, will hold a vaccine and microchip clinic in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The clinic will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7.
All vaccines and microchips will be $10 each and all cats must arrive in carriers, dogs must be on leashes or in carriers if needed. No appointment is necessary.
Emergency plans and preparation tips are available here.
Knowing your "storm surge" level is another essential resource when it comes to preparing for hurricanes. Manatee County evacuation maps and levels are available to download here.
MySDMC App — School District of Manatee County
The School District of Manatee County will be providing hurricane updates regarding the developments of Hurricane Irma and its potential impact on the community via the "MySDMC" application. The app is free and available on the Apple app and Google Play stores.
Once you have downloaded the app, you will receive frequent notifications from the district by going to the MySDMC app and clicking on "App Settings" --> "Follow Schools --> "School District of Manatee County."