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Sarasota Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017 3 months ago

Sarasota County not ready to issue all-clear; residents urged to be cautious

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The county is extending its state of emergency partly as a message to residents that conditions are not 100% normal.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

Sarasota County is extending its local state of emergency for seven days into next week, County Administrator Tom Harmer said Tuesday.

“That recognizes that during the recovery phase, there are still a number of emergency operations that need to occur,” he said.

Although the storm passed early Monday morning, the county had still not issued an “all-clear” for residents at the time of publication, and recommend they continue to shelter in place, if they can. However, residents have been out on the roads and returning to mandatory evacuation zones since Monday morning.

“People are moving about freely. We just want them to do it safely,” Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said. “By not doing an all-clear, we are emphasizing the fact that it’s not safe.”

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McCrane cited flooding in some areas, the power outages that kept traffic lights out and storm debris that could still be affecting roads as reasons the county can’t declare everything clear. 

On Tuesday, the county completed its initial survey of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma and will begin a more detailed assessment.

County spokesman Jason Bartolone was not sure when the all-clear could be issued, but he said residents can follow the county on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when it is.

“We have to keep our guard up,” McCrane said.

Similarly, Harmer said the state of emergency is a message to the public to let them know there are still “emergency conditions” in some parts of the county. It continues to give the county authority to take necessary storm-recovery actions without having to jump through too many logistical hoops.

The local state of emergency, issued on Sept. 7, would normally  expire after seven days.

Harmer said the county wanted to extend it early enough that there would be no disruptions to the county’s actions.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for Florida Sept. 4, which will last 60 days.

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