As Bay Area residents scrambled this week to prepare for the potential of Hurricane Irma, local municipalities have been working to provide resources.
With Texas and Louisiana still reeling over the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it seemed that locals were taking the Category 5 storm battering the Caribbean midweek very seriously. Many residents evacuated, while those who stayed emptied local groceries and hardware stores of supplies.
The city of St. Petersburg reported on Wednesday, September 6, that in a four hour period on Tuesday they had already distributed 25,000 sandbags – as many as are generally given out over the course of a typical named storm.
The city of St. Petersburg also advised residents to wash laundry and run dishwashers early this week ahead of the approaching storm, “to avoid nonessential water use during possible heavy rain and storm activity later this week.”
Though Hurricane Irma was forecast to take a more easterly path on Wednesday, the 400-mile-wide storm is expected to produce dangerous weather conditions throughout Florida over the weekend and into next week – including for residents of Pinellas County.
Pinellas County Schools will be closed Thursday, September 6 and Friday September 7, with officials monitoring the storm’s progress for future closures. At press time, officials stated that it was too early to say whether schools would be open on Monday.
The city of Gulfport also cancelled After School, Tot Time, and VPK Programs for Thursday and Friday.
Gulfport residents with questions are urged to call the Gulfport Citizen Informational Call Center at 727-893-1000 from noon – 8 p.m. Additional call center hours will be available Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also visit mygulfport.us/Irma for updates.
The cities of Gulfport and St. Petersburg have made sandbags available to residents, though the number is limited to 10 per person. Sandbags are available at Gulfport City Hall from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The city of St. Petersburg will be distributing sandbags from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Northeast Park, Bartlett Park, and the Northwest Pool Parking Lot. Due to demand, they also opened additional sandbag sites at the Lake Vista Recreation Center, Azalea Park and the Main Branch Library.
Pinellas County Emergency Management has opened its Citizen Information Center where residents can call 727-464-4333 for hurricane preparedness questions. Residents are also encouraged to review the sign up for Alert Pinellas at pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas to receive emergency notifications by phone or text message.