- September 23, 2022
Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said a westward trend in the forecast path of soon-to-be Hurricane Ian might be encouraging for now, but he warned residents to remain vigilant no matter what the spaghetti models indicate.
"We don’t know what this storm is going to do," he said.
Read more: Tropical Storm Ian updates, news in Sarasota and Manatee counties
Dezzi spoke to town residents Saturday afternoon during a 15-minute conference call in which he said under the present forecast, the island on Wednesday and Thursday should be ready to expect heavy rains, saltwater storm surge and street flooding, particularly in areas already prone to such conditions.
Earlier in the day, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said the county was watching developments on which to base decisions for the workweek ahead.
Dezzi asked residents and property managers on the island to spend Sunday and Monday as preparation days because “you still need to be ready.’’
He said the town’s fire-rescue department has been in contact with residents who would be required to be evacuated by ambulance, should an order be issued.
Read more: Manatee, Sarasota counties, Longboat Key set sandbag stations
Although no evacuations have yet been ordered, Dezzi urged residents to leave when asked to. He reminded residents that when an evacuation is ordered, police and fire personnel are the last people off the island and would not be available to respond to 911 calls.
"We can’t be there if we’re off the island," Dezzi said.
Longboat Key in recent years agreed to work directly with Sarasota County on matters of emergency preparedness, eliminating potential conflicting orders from Sarasota and Manatee counties in terms of evacuations, reentry after a storm and more.
McCrane, in a video message posted Saturday, said his county was about 24 hours away from beginning to make decisions on potential evacuations, school closings and shelter status. Such calls would be based, he said, on the predicted track, storm-intensity forecast and timing.
Manatee County on Saturday issued a state of emergency, with a 4-0 vote of the County Commission.
McCrane said the emergency community has been watching the formation of Ian for about a week. For now, he suggested, residents ensure they are preparing.
“This is a time to just kind of watch it, stay aware of what’s happening by watching the local media,” he said, adding residents should make sure their disaster supplies are in order. “Just stay calm and know what you’re going to do. We don’t want people to wait until the last minute to get those supplies together.’’
County Communications Director Jamie Carson also suggested now is a good time to connect with neighbors and check on those who might live alone or might need assistance with preparations. She also urged residents familiarize themselves with SCGov.net/BePrepared, which can answer lots of lingering questions.