Hurricane Irma left some fallen trees and debris along the roads in Sarasota County. Some stop lights were out, too.
Undeterred, plenty of motorists and vehicles filled up the roadways throughout Sarasota first thing Monday morning.
However, Sarasota County did not issue the all-clear signal yet.
During Monday’s midday briefing at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center, emergency management chief Ed McCrane said one of the most dangerous aspects to Irma’s damage has to do with traffic signals.
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“Over 108 traffic signals are out,” McCrane said. “We have had reports from law enforcement and citizens that people are just flying through the intersection, because they don’t see a red or a green (light).”
McCrane said they’re in the process of putting up stop signs at those places, which included the Bee Ridge Road and Honore Avenue, and Fruitville Road and Honore intersections.
“In the meantime, we want everyone to treat all intersections as four-way stops,” McCrane said.
Irma, a Category 2 hurricane when it reached Sarasota County, featured gusting winds and rain that zapped power from about 60 percent — 175,000 people — of the county, according to Florida Power and Light.
The power outages, McCrane said, are the biggest challenge they’ve faced during the post-Irma damage assessment, and there isn’t an exact timetable for power to come back for the residents without it.
“They’ve been able to restore certain places, and we’ve given (FPL) a list of critical facilities like hospitals ... that need to be restored,” McCrane said. “They’re doing everything they can, bringing in additional resources. Hopefully, the weather cooperates so that they can do it quickly.”
A return to normalcy, with government offices, trash pickup services and more, is an ongoing determination from the county.
“The impacts were less than we anticipated, which was a good thing,” McCrane said.
McCrane said the Sarasota County school district will decide on Wednesday when to reopen schools as they assess damages from Irma, and Tuesday’s meeting of the Sarasota County commissioners has been canceled. Some schools, like Riverview High School, were used as shelters.
Meanwhile, Sarasota County emergency management recovery chief Scott Montgomery said they have 23 assessors in north, mid and south Sarasota County to assess the damage to residential and commercial buildings.
“It’s going to take some time, because this is a county-wide event,” Montgomery said. “... It could take a couple of days. We want to get it done as quickly as we can, but we want to be exact as we can, too.”
Montgomery said they’re going to areas they know took damage like barrier islands such as Siesta Key, Lido Key and Casey Key and mobile home parks.
“If they have residential damage to their home or to their commercial, let us know and we’ll go take a look at it,” Montgomery said.
For those needing damage assessment, Montgomery said to call 941-861-5000.
At the Myakka River, McCrane said there is flooding.
“It is at flood stage and is expected to raise to major flood stage in the next 48 hours,” McCrane said.
Sarasota County Emergency Management issued a CodeRED to all areas within 0.25 miles of the Myakka River on both sides.