Pinellas County is under tropical storm warning as Elsa continues to wreak havoc in Cuba sustained winds of 65 mph on Monday, July 5. While the storm track has moved slightly west, Florida and the Bay area are still in her path.
The warning covers both Hillsborough and Pinellas, and indicates flooding and heavy rains are expected in the next 48 hours.
Following Cuba’s evacuation of over 180,000 people on Sunday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a State of Emergency for counties in and near the Florida Keys.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to affect into Florida as early as Monday night, continuing into Tuesday and early Wednesday.
“All Floridians should prepare for the possibility of heavy rain, flooding and potential power outages,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter Sunday night. “Now is the time to restock your supplies and review your hurricane plan.”
According to the National Hurricane Center, the Bay area could see storm surge potentially reaching 2 to 4 feet.
Pinellas County Schools Closed
On Monday, July 5, Pinellas County Schools released a statement that, “in an abundance of caution, all Pinellas County Schools and district offices will be closed on Tuesday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 7, 2021. All summer programming, including after-care/childcare programs and school-related activities are canceled for these days.”
The district anticipates being open and fully operational on Thursday, July 8.
Gulfport: Self service sandbags will be available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today, Monday, July 5 at the 49th Street Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S.
“There is a 10-bag limit and proof of residency may be required,” said Justin Shea, Gulfport’s Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor.
A Gulfport Information Call Center is open for storm preparedness questions at 727-893-1000.
“This is the same system we put in place for Hurricane Irma,” Shea said.
As of Sunday evening, July 4, the city’s self-service sandbag location had distributed over 2,500 sandbags to the community, according to the release.
Visit mygulfport.us for more.
St. Petersburg: The City of St. Petersburg makes sandbags available when an official storm warning is issued for the area.
Find more resources here.
St. Pete Beach: Sandbags are available in the parking lot between Public Works and Horan Park, 7581 Boca Ciega Dr.
If anyone needs additional bags or assistance, staff at the St. Pete Beach Community Center is available Monday, Juy 5 from 12 -3 p.m. at the community pool and Tuesday, July 6 from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Madeira Beach: Self service sandbags will be available at the Madeira Beach Fire Station, 300 Municipal Dr. Sand is self-service from the east side of John’s Pass Park.
If your municipality does not have advertised plans at this time, Pinellas County resources are available.
Pinellas County Resources
For residents with hurricane prep questions, the County Information Center is open at 727-464-4333. Residents who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact the CIC via online chat at bit.ly/PinellasChat.
The county advises all residents to have a plan in the event you need to shelter in place or evacuate. You can find your evacuation zone at pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone or call 727-453-3150 and enter your 10-digit home phone number.
Residents can also sign up for Alert Pinellas at pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas and review tips and planning tools in the 2020 All Hazard Guide online at pinellascounty.org/emergency, including shelter information, sandbag location and hurricane supply recommendations.
For those who require special needs shelter accommodations, you can by calling the County Information Center at 727-464-4333, even if you are transporting yourself to the shelter. Registration is required for those needing transportation assistance. Residents only need to register for special needs shelters once per season, so doing it now will help you for the rest of the year.