After Ian, Officials Promise More Help On The Way

Todays News

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Thousand Trails Peace River mobile home park after Hurricane Ian.

School remains out in Sarasota and Manatee counties because of the impact of Hurricane Ian, and the closure remains indefinite in Sarasota. But most people in the region now have power as the water recedes and a recovery effort continues.

“Support is ongoing,” said state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. “Help is here and more is on the way.”

As of 9pm Sunday evening, only around 16% of customers in Manatee County remained without power, while over 31% of Sarasota users remained without electricity. Manatee County school officials announced plans to reopen on Tuesday, but the picture remains less clear in Sarasota. 

“Sarasota County Schools will remain closed until further notice while we continue to assess, clean, and repair extensive damages to our facilities,” reads a notice from the Sarasota school district. “We will reopen once we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our students and employees while they are in our schools & facilities throughout Sarasota County.” The notice goes on to note that particularly in South County areas like North Port, there remains significant damage from the storm.

Government officials in the area remain anxious to bring all services online, particularly schools. “The schools are a big unknown factor that will displace a lot of people once they are ready to get back to work/life,” said Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler. “With COVID just a couple years ago impacting kids, we cannot afford any more distractions or limitations. With that said, many schools have damage that is currently be assessed and we should know more soon.”

And the area still has its needs. State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, said communities further south that dealt with greater wind force and storm surge need immediate relief. The area still needs several things, she said. “The water to recede. Debris and tree removal. Tarps, probably a few generators, hot meals,” she said, “and we need to set up a field hospital in Venice.”

Ziegler praised Gov. Ron DeSantis for working with Starlink to make sure there was internet access available in the region despite traditional wire infrastructure still down thanks to the storm.

“We responded quickly with initial supplies and Gov helped open up the PODS, but could use more ice for people who lack power,” he said. “The roads and county infrastructure is one of the next phases. That is being assessed now that we have access throughout the community. We have a very good team and processes in place, but never faced a storm like this locally. So far, so good, but still a lot of work to do until we are back to normal.”

 

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Thousand Trails Peace River mobile home park after Hurricane Ian.

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