Although Hurricane Matthew is not projected to strike Hillsborough County, public school classes are canceled for Friday so multiple buildings can be used to shelter evacuees from other areas.
Designated evacuation centers include Brandon, Strawberry Crest, and Riverview high schools; along with Summerfield Crossing Elementary in Riverview; Pizzo Elementary near the University of South Florida, Burnett Middle School in Seffner; and Tomlin Middle School in Plant City.
Their schools’ inland location combined with interstate proximity was a factor in that choice.
“Most of the schools are right along Interstate 75,” School Board Chairwoman April Griffin said. “They can be used by people leaving from Miami, or people from the southern part of the state along the Gulf Coast.”
Tomlin and Burnett are located just off Interstate 4.
The schools will open at 5 p.m. Thursday with a total capacity of 8,142. Burnett is the only pet-friendly school.
An additional 40 schools could be opened as shelters if needed.
Hillsborough is expected to receive tropical storm-force winds, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour.