Manatee County opened Freedom Elementary School, located at 9515 State Road 64, Wednesday to serve as a "Safe Haven" shelter.
Read more: Nicole's tropical storm winds could arrive in Sarasota-Manatee Wednesday
The pet-friendly shelter is open for residents who want to evacuate their homes voluntarily if they think their homes could be compromised as a result of damage from Hurricane Ian, according to a county release.
The shelter also is open for residents of mobile and manufactured homes.
"People know their homes," County Administrator Scott Hopes said. "If their roof or home sustained damage, we want to assure them there is a place for them to weather Tropical Storm Nicole."
A decision on whether the School District of Manatee County will close schools Thursday will be made later Wednesday.
Manatee County declared a state of emergency Tuesday as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches Florida.
"It's important for the public to monitor the storm and prepare for the effects of tropical storm-force winds in the area," said Steve Litschauer, the public safety deputy director and chief of emergency management, in a news release.