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Sarasota Friday, Nov. 22, 2019 2 weeks ago

Sarasota Schools to improve hurricane shelters, add one

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Taylor Ranch Elementary will be added as the 12th evacuation center in Sarasota County.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Sarasota County will soon see upgrades to several hurricane evacuation centers, as well as the addition of another. 

Through a collaborative effort with Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County Schools received a $1,057,7000 grant from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. 

The grant will allow the district to make improvements to select schools that serve as hurricane evacuation centers, as well as the addition of Taylor Ranch Elementary as a mid-county shelter location.

The addition of Taylor Ranch marks the 12th hurricane center in the county, and the grant will allow an engineer to assess the school and make structural recommendations. The upgrades will allow the school to serve approximately 1,280 evacuees in the event of a hurricane. 

“We are thankful to our state and local emergency management partners for assisting Sarasota County Schools with funding and resources needed to ensure the safety and security of evacuees at schools that serve as hurricane evacuation centers,” said Jody Dumas, interim chief operating officer of Sarasota County Schools in a statement. “In addition to retrofitting existing sites, adding Taylor Ranch Elementary as another evacuation center will greatly improve our ability to serve Sarasota County.”

In addition to Taylor Ranch, Fruitville Elementary, Gulf Gate Elementary and North Port High school will undergo improvements throughout 2020. Upgrades include wind impact protection for windows, mesh impact barriers in all exterior areas and improved drainage systems. 

“Sarasota County looks forward to collaborating with the school district and the state to harden Taylor Ranch and other schools, increasing Hurricane Evacuation Center space for residents across the County, especially in the mid-county area," said Sarasota County Emergency Services Director Rich Collins in a statement.

Sarasota County Schools will bid out the improvement project to contractors and engineering firms. Improvements are estimated to be complete by the end of 2020. 

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