MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Manatee County Emergency officials have issued a voluntary evacuation notice for residents of Anna Maria Island and other low-lying, flood-prone areas.
Hurricane Eta is projected to affect the Suncoast. The Sunshine Skyway has closed to traffic. Manatee Schools students will shift to an e-learning schedule for the rest of this week as two schools are being opened for public shelters of last resort. Manatee High School and Mills Elementary schools will open today by noon at limited capacity to those who cannot stay with friends, family or other shelter.
Public beaches are closed today and tomorrow as the parking lots of those areas become staging sites for sandbag distribution. In addition to the two County sandbag sites, Island residents and City of Bradenton residents have sandbag pickup options today, all detailed on the sandbag area of the County’s website. Earlier this week Public Safety Director Jacob Saur and Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer say Manatee County’s barrier islands are most vulnerable to flooding tonight when rains of between 4-6 inches will arrive, accompanied by storm surge of 2-5 feet.
“This afternoon conditions will rapidly deteriorate and it’s going to be a rough night,” Saur said. “Residents whose homes normally experience storm force winds should make alternate plans. Residents know their area best and they should make plans now. If they’re affected by surge or flooding they need to go to the home of family or friends outside of those areas. They don’t have to leave the county but they need to get outside of those areas that normally flood.” “The biggest concern with a public shelter this year is the potential spread of COVID-19,” Litschauer said. “Shelter capacity is diminished so we cannot stress enough that the shelters must be a refuge of last resort. Find somewhere else to go, if you can.”At the end of a long regular meeting yesterday, County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency in advance of the storm’s arrival.
Miscellaneous closures and updates
The COVID-19 testing site at the Bradenton Area Convention Center will temporarily close today at noon.All Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) operations will be suspended today by 1 p.m. The Island Branch Library will be closed tomorrow. Robinson and Emerson Point preserves will be closed today and tomorrow. Tomorrow’s Planning Commission meeting has been postponed to Thursday, Nov. 19. Trash collections are expected to remain on schedule in unincorporated Manatee County. The World’s Strongest Man Competition scheduled this week on Anna Maria will be moved to the Feld Entertainment Campus and will not be open to the public. For severe weather preparation information, visit www.mymanatee.org/manateeready Sign up for emergency alerts sent straight to your phone at mymanatee.org/AlertManatee. Residents can also call Manatee County’s 311 Center to ask questions or receive information on all of the latest from the County. For more information on Manatee County Government, visit www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter @ManateeGov.