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Pinellas County monitoring Hurricane Irma
Residents advised to review preparedness plans
Pinellas County is monitoring track of Hurricane Irma, now a Category 5 storm
- Residents advised to review and finalize hurricane preparedness plans
- Checklist can be found online at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/prepareahead.htm
- The Citizen Information Center is open for preparedness questions. Call (727) 464-4333.
- Sandbag distribution locations have been activated for residents in unincorporated Pinellas
- County assigned hashtag #PinellasIrma for social media updates
- Web updates will be posted online at www.pinellascounty.org
Pinellas County Emergency Management is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma and advising residents to stay updated on the weather and ensure plans are in place.
According to the National Weather Service, the effect of Hurricane Irma on Tampa Bay is uncertain. Irma is moving toward the west near 14 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest tonight.
The Citizen Information Center is now open for residents until 8 p.m. Residents can call (727) 464-4333 for preparedness questions. The information line is scheduled to be open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Thursday, at this time.
To allow residents enough time to prepare, Pinellas County has activated three sandbag distribution locations for residents in unincorporated Pinellas. The sandbag sites are as follows:
- John Chesnut Sr. Park, 2200 East Lake Road in Palm Harbor
- Lealman Community Park, 3890 55th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg
- Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. S.W. in Largo
Sandbags will be limited to 20 per person. Material and bags will be supplied. Residents must fill their own sandbags. Shovels will be available. The sandbag distribution locations will be open during daylight hours. Residents of the county’s 24 cities should check with their municipality for distribution within their area.
Residents are reminded to review and finalize preparedness plans. Some of the recommended steps residents are asked to take include:
- Sign up for Alert Pinellas at www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas to receive emergency notifications via phone, email or text message.
- Download the Ready Pinellas app to help with emergency preparedness before a storm and as a storm approaches. It is available for free download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
- Check your evacuation zone, which can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/KnowYourZone, on the Ready Pinellas app, or by downloading the Pinellas County Doing Things mobile app.
- Know your flood risk at www.pinellascounty.org/flooding or call (727) 464-7700.
- Stay tuned for weather updates through weather alert radios, local media outlets, the county website (www.pinellascounty.org) and county social media accounts.
- Review additional tips and planning tools in the 2017 All Hazards Guide, available in English and Spanish at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency.
- Review disaster plans for your family, business and property.
- Get your survival kit and important papers ready. Purchase any items you will need to complete your survival kit now to avoid long lines and limited supplies. Checklist can be found online at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/prepareahead.htm
- If you have special needs, be sure your caregiver begins to implement your plan. If you have no other options, register for special needs shelters by calling Emergency Management at (727) 582-2600 or by contacting the local fire department.
When planning to evacuate, residents are advised to consider evacuating short distance (tens of miles, not hundreds of miles) to avoid the impacts of potential storm surge, significant rainfall flooding, and unsafe structures (mobile homes). Consider staying in safer structures that have window and door protection for Hurricanes.
If your plans are to evacuate out of the area, please be aware of the uncertainty of the track of Hurricane Irma and that all of Florida is presently in the threat area. When evacuating, people should safely use real time traffic apps on their smart phones, such as Florida 511, to find the best route if roads become congested.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for every Florida county due to the hurricane threat. At this time, the county’s Emergency Operations Center is not activated, but officials are proactively monitoring the weather and asking residents to prepare.
The state has also suspended the refill too-soon restriction. Residents can now refill their prescriptions and are also recommended to obtain a list of their medications from their pharmacists.
With the inclusion of Pinellas County in the declaration of a state of emergency, residents are now protected by the state’s price gouging law. Residents who suspect price gouging can report it to Pinellas County Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200 or use the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
Residents should stay tuned for weather updates through weather alert radios, local media outlets, the county website (www.pinellascounty.org) and county social media accounts; they are also urged to sign up for Alert Pinellas at www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas to receive emergency notifications by phone or text message. Pinellas County will be posting storm-related and preparedness updates on social media using hashtag #PinellasIrma.