- September 6, 2017
It was Sept. 6, 2017, and Hurricane Irma was on its way.
Outside Lakewood Ranch Community Park, hundreds of cars waited in line for a chance to fill bags with sand.
One woman said she waited more than three hours to fill 10 sand bags.
As this hurricane season opened June 1, Manatee County officials said no major changes have been made in the way they will deal with a major storm event.
One supposedly small change, though, might be not be so minor.
Manatee County has purchased five new sandbagging machines, which will mechanize the process. Each will fill about 700 50-pound sandbags per hour with a team of five county staff members running the operation. Together, the machines can produce 42,000, 50-pound sandbags in a 12-hour day. The cost of the machines was approximately $100,000.
Last week, Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Sherilyn Burris talked about the new sandbagging machines, but she also wanted to remind residents to have a plan in place in advance of a major storm.
“Hurricane season is half the year every year,” Burris said. “Know whether your home is safe enough to shelter in place. Going to a shelter is a last resort.”
Although most construction in East County is built to newer standards and can handle high winds, there are areas along the Braden and Manatee rivers, in particular, that could be susceptible to storm surges from hurricanes. Residents should know which evacuation level applies to their home and develop their plan accordingly.
Burris stressed the importance of having enough supplies to be self-sufficient for seven days.