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Pinellas expands mandatory evacuations

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

From Pinellas County GovernmentIn light of Hurricane Irma’s heightened threat to lives and property of Pinellas County residents, the mandatory evacuation order is now extended to all residents and businesses in evacuation Level B, effective immediately.

The order continues for residents of mobile homes countywide, regardless of evacuation zone, and includes residents previously ordered to evacuate from Level A.

Residents in Level B must begin evacuating immediately and secure safe shelter promptly. Residents of Level A and all mobile homes must continue their evacuations and secure safe shelter immediately, as well. These evacuation orders will remain in place until ended by further notice. 

The expansion of the evacuation order to Level B is based on the latest National Weather Service forecast for Hurricane Irma and the threat of more widespread storm surge, a dome of water rapidly pushed ashore by strong winds.

Residents who must evacuate are encouraged to first seek shelter with friends or family members who live in non-evacuation zones in Pinellas County. This will provide for more comfortable accommodations. Otherwise, they may go to a nearby emergency shelter. Residents need to know that this will be a significant wind event.

Those who are not in a mandatory evacuation zone (because of storm surge), but feel unsafe at their location, are encouraged to reach out to neighbors, friends and family for support or shelter ahead of the storm.

Additional emergency shelters have been made available as follows, and will open at 9 a.m. today:
– Carwise Middle School (3301 Bentley Drive, Palm Harbor)
– Dunedin Elementary School (900 Union St., Dunedin)
– Clearwater Fundamental Middle School (1660 Palmetto St., Clearwater)
– Ross Norton Recreation Center (1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., Clearwater)
– Sexton Elementary School (1997 54th Ave. N., St. Petersburg)
– Lealman Innovation Academy (4900 28th St. N., St. Petersburg)
– New Heights Elementary School (3901 37th St. N., St. Petersburg)
– St. Petersburg High School (2501 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg)
– Campbell Park Elementary School (1051 7th Ave. S., St. Petersburg)
– Boca Ciega High School (924 58th St. S., Gulfport)
The following shelters also remain open:
– Palm Harbor University High School (1900 Omaha St., Palm Harbor)
– Largo High School (410 Missouri Ave., Largo)
– Gibbs High School (850 34th St. South, St. Petersburg)
– Oak Grove Middle School (1370 S. Belcher Road, Clearwater) *No longer accepting pets
– Dunedin Highland Middle School (70 Patricia Ave, Dunedin) – pet-friendly shelter
– John Hopkins Middle School, (701 16th St. S., St. Petersburg) – pet-friendly shelter

Oak Grove, Dunedin Highland and John Hopkins middle schools shelters are also equipped for residents with special needs. 

A complete list of emergency shelters is available at www.pinellascounty.org. Individuals should plan on bringing a “go bag” to the shelter with items including: medications, bedding, toiletries, changes of clothing, important paperwork, infant or child necessities and a phone list. Residents with special needs should bring any necessary medical equipment they think they will need and that can be moved.

Residents who have a pet and plan to evacuate to a pet-friendly shelter are reminded to bring a carrier, supplies and register ahead of time. Visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/petpreparedness.htm

Ways to find your evacuation zone:
• Visit www.pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone
• Download the Ready Pinellas app, or the Pinellas County Doing Things mobile app.
• Call (727) 453-3150 and enter your 10-digit home phone number (must be from a landline)

Residents can also call the Citizen Information Center at (727) 464-4333 to get preparedness information, including how to look up their evacuation zone. Spanish-speaking call-takers are available.

Barrier island reminders

Throughout the evacuation window, access to the barrier islands will be restricted to the following:
– Residents
– Property owners
– Business owners and employees
– Individuals with legitimate business needs

To travel to and from the barrier islands during the evacuation period, residents and business owners must provide their barrier island re-entry permit or photo I.D. and reasonable proof that they live or have legitimate business on the barrier islands. Examples of this include: vehicle registration, property tax or utility bill, proof of employment (pay stub or work I.D.) and work orders.

Stay tuned for weather updates through weather alert radios, local media outlets, the county website and county social media accounts; search hashtag #PinellasIrma.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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