Manatee declares state of emergency and also opens up sandbag site.
A tropical storm watch now extends over Sarasota and Manatee county coasts, along with a storm surge watch in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa's forecast track up Florida's west coast this week.
The tropical storm watch extends from the tip of the Florida peninsula to the Anclote River, on the border of Pinellas and Pasco counties. The storm surge watch extends farther north, to the Suwanee River.
A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life- threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the next 48 hours.
Longboat Key set up its self-service sandbag station Friday at the Broadway Street beach access site.
The station is for residents and businesses of Longboat Key only, and there is a limit of 10 bags per household or business. The town said residents or business operators can bring their own bags if more are needed.
Hurricane Elsa on Sunday was moving northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. On Monday, the storm is forecast to move across Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico, very near Key West and off the west coast as it moves north, potentially landfalling as a tropical storm north of Tampa Bay early Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, the coast of Sarasota and Manatee counties could begin to see tropical storm force winds early Tuesday.
Manatee County has established a state of emergency, urging its residents to remain informed.
“Now is not the time to panic, but it’s time to finalize your storm preparations,” said County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes. “Our residents know the area best and they should begin to make alternate plans now if they’re usually affected by storm surges or flooding.”
Sandbags are available at a Manatee County facility at 5511 39th St. East, Bradenton. Hours for the self-service site are until 7 p.m. Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.
The last encounter the Sarasota area had with tropical weather was in November when Eta followed a similar course. More than 200 Longboat Key homes were flooded by rising gulf and bay waters, in places as high as fire hydrants, largely on the north end of the island. Wind damage was minimal – maximum winds with the storm reached gusts of 55 mph.
In some cases, repair work from Eta continues.
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