Updated Aug. 30, 2019 at 1:15 p.m. | BRADENTON – The Manatee County Commission declared a local state of emergency this morning as Hurricane Dorian approaches, following the statewide emergency declared yesterday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Don’t panic. Get your plan in place and start planning for what’s looking to be a rain event, but could possibly turn into wind as well,” said Jacob Saur, acting director of the public safety department.
Dorian, now approaching Category 3 strength, has a taken a turn for the south, according to forecasters, who estimate West Palm Beach as the place of impact.
Locally, storm effects will be worst from the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 1 through the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 4, Saur said, with a potential 3-6 feet of storm surge along the Gulf coast, 4-5 inches of rain, and seas 3-8 feet above normal.
If Dorian makes an expected northward turn in the center of Florida, Saur said there are no local storm surge worries, but if it waits to make the northward turn until it reaches the west coast, storm surge will be a concern.
NOAA forecasters currently show the “cone of uncertainty” as covering the entire Florida peninsula, and predict that the storm will slow after its makes landfall.
“As the storm slows down, it has an opportunity to expand its eyewall,” Saur said.
The arrival of storm-force winds locally are predicted from Monday, Sept. 2 through Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Winds are expected to be equal to or greater than Hurricane Irma in 2017, said Steve Litschauer, chief of the county’s emergency management department. Ground already saturated with rainwater then inundated with Dorian’s rain could lead to canals and rivers flooding, he said.
Residents of mobile homes and RVs should plan on evacuating Sunday, when county officials expect to declare mandatory mobile home and RV evacuations. Three to four shelters, three of which are pet-friendly, will be opened, along with the special needs shelter, also pet-friendly, he said, adding that shelter openings will be announced Saturday.
The homeless transportation plan likely will be put into effect to transport homeless persons to shelters, Litschauer said.
Sandbags are available today, Friday, Aug. 30, and tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 31 at G.T. Bray Park parking lot, Bennet Park, Lakewood Ranch Park and the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Free sandbags also are available from the City of Anna Maria at the corner of North Shore Drive and North Bay Boulevard at the far north end of Bayfront Park.
The county’s Citizen Information Center line, 941-749-3547, will field calls from the public today and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.