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Pinellas County barrier islands remain closed after Irma, sheriffs say

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Update – Residents were allowed to return to Pinellas County at 9:30 a.m. and could return to the barrier islands at 4 p.m.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri sealed off the county after Hurricane Irma moved through so deputies could conduct damage and safety assessments.

Now deputies feel the bridges for re-entry are safe to reopen.

Deputies had warned citizens to stay off all Pinellas County roadways due to hazardous conditions that included traffic light outages, downed power lines and significant debris blocking roadways.

Tweet, tweet:

“Deputies have been back on the road for a little more than an hour,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office tweeted at 6 a.m. Monday. “Many lights are out, power lines down, and there is a significant amount of debris blocking driveways.”

According to the officials, power lines are down most major intersections; a bridge on 54th Avenue S. near Point Brittany remains closed indefinitely after a yacht slammed into it.

As of Monday morning, Irma has gone from a massive Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm moving, but there are still chances for damage and devastation. While Duke Energy crews are just beginning to respond to widespread regional power outages locally, an estimated 3 million people statewide are still without power.

“Pinellas County is currently sealed off at the county lines and deputies are restricting access until damage and safety assessments are completed,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Barrier islands remain closed, and deputies recommend staying off the roads while they assess the damage.

A photo from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office shows the gas station at 16451 Gulf Boulevard in North Redington Beach.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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