MANATEE -- While hundreds of Manatee County residents filled sandbags at G.T. Bray Park Sunday morning to prepare for possible damage from Tropical Storm Isaac, less than 20 actually left their homes for protection at one of three designated shelters.
The Emergency Operations Center closed the shelter at Braden River High at 5:15 p.m. There had been only two clients seeking shelter at Braden River High, said Ken Sandy of the American Red Cross.
Manatee High School had eight clients, two cats and a dog, said shelter supervisor John Hendricks of the American Red Cross.
Nolan Middle School, a special needs shelter, had eight clients, said Megan Jourdan, a spokeswoman with the Manatee County Health Department, which operated the shelter.
There was much more activity at the sandbag sites than at the shelters.
At 1 p.m., Sara Russo of Ellenton was among a crowd at G.T. Bray Park, loading bags.
"I live next to a canal in Highland Shores," Russo said, as Kristen Landers held a bag open for her. "I take precautions."
Manatee County workers had to make two sand dumps for a total of 40 tons in order to satisfy demand,
By 2 p.m. a total of 108 residents had already bagged 20 tons of sand at G.T. Bray Park, one of several sandbag locations.
"Our street floods," said Landers, who was at G.T. Bray Park with house mates Whitney Freeman and Rachael Froelich.
The four young women live near Sutton Park in Palmetto.
Chester Bell packed 10 sandbags into his Chevy truck in order to protect his home in the 10300 block of 46th Avenue West.
"When it rains there is no place for the water to drain," Bell said of his street.
Linda Soos was first person to check into the shelter at Manatee High, arriving with her little black cat, Jade, shortly after the shelter opened.
"I'm grateful for the American Red Cross being here," said Soos, who lives in Aloha Estates, a trailer park at 14th Street West and 53rd Avenue West.
James and Nancy Warner, the only clients at Braden River High, which could have handled more than 3,000, came to the shelter from their manufactured home across the street at Horseshoe Cove.
"I'm a mentor at Braden River High and I know this school is built like a fort," James Warner said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond