Manatee County officials and residents talk Ian preparations

Published: Sep. 25, 2022 at 2:25 AM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Manatee County Commissioners held a meeting today to discuss evacuation plans and procedures. After new information is released by the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center on Sunday, 9/25/2022, the county will issue necessary evacuations. Those who reside in zone A will have to evacuate if evacuations are issued, as well as those in mobile homes or increased flooding areas. According to Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer, the biggest concern right now is making sure residents are prepared just in case.

“What we’ve learned recently is when a storm gets into the gulf it’s going to do what we see today, go from no storm to a category three, four, or five in three days,” said Litschauer. “Well, if you haven’t already started to prepare, those three days go really quick.”

Litschauer said residents should be paying close attention to any updates from the county and local news about Tropical Storm Ian. He said residents do not have to panic yet, and shouldn’t, but the storm can change within hours as it has in the past several days. Litschauer has worked with the county through several storms and said even if the county isn’t directly hit, there can still be bad weather.

“Don’t get fixed in on that center line as they call it because the storm might turn one way or the other but its still a large storm,” said Litschauer. “We will still have wind and rain, to what degree? That’s what we got to wait and see.”

Manatee County has several locations for residents to start preparing by getting 10 free sandbags. On Saturday, residents could get sandbags self-serve style at Bennett Park, Rubonia Community Center and Myakka Community Center.

Residents came together helping each other fill up bags and load them up to take home. According to Manatee County resident Zach Salyers, regardless of if the resident is new from the area and this is their first hurricane or if they were born and raised, everyone must get through this storm together.

“Others weren’t quite prepared with not having the right tools and we’re all one family, so it only takes a moment to help,” said Salyers. “What we do today in preparation is going to help what we have to do in the cleanup and the most important thing is helping each other and getting through all this together, all the way to the other end.”

On Sunday, pre-made bags will be available from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at G.T. Bray Park and Bradenton Area Convention Center.