As preparations continue ahead of a Category 4 hurricane forecast to move along or over the east coast of Florida tonight and tomorrow, Pinellas County is making its own plans to lend a hand.
“The current weather forecast puts Pinellas County in a more favorable position to be able to support other agencies and counties that are expected to see far greater impacts,” Pinellas County Commission Chairman Charlie Justice said in a press release. “Both in times of calm and of emergency response, Pinellas County supports its belief that with partners we can do more. We are pleased to help and to work with our municipal partners in delivering assistance.”
As of Thursday morning, Pinellas County departments were offering the following support services:
Airport: U.S. Coast Guard aircraft from Miami and Allegiant Air aircraft from Orlando Sanford International Airport will be ferrying into St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. The aircraft will be parked on PIE’s airfield to be kept safe during the storm.
Animal Services: Staff is on stand-by to receive 16 dogs and 15 cats from Osceola County Animal Services. The animals will be accepted into the adoption program once transported.
Fire Administration/EMS: As a part of the state of emergency response plan, Pinellas County is sending a Fire Engine Strike Team and a Technical Rescue Unit to Lakeland. The Fire Engine Strike Team is made up of firefighters from the Dunedin, East Lake, Palm Harbor, Seminole, and Largo fire departments. The Technical Rescue Unit will be made up of firefighters/technical rescue technicians from the Pinellas Park, Largo, and Clearwater fire departments.
The team will be staging at 3 p.m. at the Countryside Mall in Clearwater and will convoy in route to Lakeland’s final staging area with departments from all across the state set to support affected areas. Full fire department resources are in Pinellas County and ready to respond locally as needed.
Convention and Visitors Bureau: The department is working with tourism partners in information sharing about hotel room availability through the Visit Florida’s Emergency Accommodations Module at www.visitflorida.com/en-us/eam.html, which allows hotel partners from non-affected areas to submit hotel availability and rates for those who are being displaced to use.