Emergency Officials Closely Monitor Ian

Todays News

Public safety officials in Sarasota and Manatee County had their eyes tuned on Tropical Storm Ian, a named system threatening Florida’s entire west coast. According to the latest storm track forecasts, the system has a high likelihood of impacting this region, which still falls in a cone for potential landfall. 

“This is a time to just kind of watch it, stay aware of what’s happening by watching the local media, putting your disaster supply kit. Just stay calm and know what you are going to do,” said Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane. “We don’t want people waiting until the light minute to put their supplies together.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in all of Florida. President Joe Biden has already authorized FEMA to direct resources in 24 Florida counties, including Sarasota and Manatee, at risk of direct impact. As of late Sunday, a tropical storm watch and storm surge watch was in place from Englewood south.

But it could still be days before the full effects of the storm are known on this area. Manatee and Sarasota school officials made the call Sunday evening to leave schools open today, and will closely monitor the storm to make decisions through the week.

The National Hurricane Center expects Ian to reach hurricane-force winds today and to become a Category 4 storm by the time it passes over Western Cuba. It will remain a major hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico, forecasts show, but is expected to diminish in force as it heads for West or Northwest Florida. Bute forecasters with the Center remind that forecasting models once the storm moves past Cuba show great uncertainty about its path and its intensity.

State officials have also stressed that even if the storm diminishes in power, the presence of a Category 4 storm in the Gulf could generate significant storm surge on Florida’s coast even if wind forces slow down.

“No matter what track Ian decides to take, there is a risk of storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida by the middle of this week,” reads a statement released by Manatee County emergency officials on Twitter.

Officials in both counties have declared a state of emergency locally. In Manatee, self-serve sandbags are available at Bennett Park, Buffalo Creek Park , Rubonia Community Center and Myakka Community Center, pre-made bags are available at Manatee Beach, Bayfront Park and Ciquina Beach and full-service distribution is happening at G.T. Bray Park and the Bradenton Area Convention Center. Sarasota County has self-serve locations at Ed Smith Station, Twin Lakes Park and South County Fleet. The City of Venice is also allowing self-serve sandbagging at Wellfield Park, and North Port is doing the same at the George Mullen Activity Center.

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