Learning from Hurricane Hermine, Manatee residents prepare for Matthew

When Hurricane Charley made its way through the Orlando area in 2004, Renell Daniels, who now lives in Bradenton, remembers not being prepared.

“We didn’t take it seriously, and we got it bad,” Daniels said as she picked up sandbags at G.T. Bray Park on Wednesday afternoon. “This time I’m going to be smart about it.”

While Hurricane Matthews is forecasted to hit the east coast of Florida, Daniels is making sure she’s ready in case it makes a turn and affects Manatee County. On Wednesday afternoon, Daniels was one of the first residents to pick up 10 sandbags at the Bradenton park.

“On my street around Manatee High School, it floods like no other,” she said. “I need these sandbags. Better safe, not sorry.”

Manatee County began handing out sandbags at 1 p.m. Wednesday at five locations and will continue doing so until 6 p.m. and again between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday.

When Hurricane Hermine brought heavy rains and flooding to Manatee County last month, Daniels said her street flooded up to her thigh.

“My backyard was a swimming pool,” she said. “I regretted not getting sandbags then. I won’t do that again.”

The inside of Jason Roby’s home got flooded during Hurricane Hermine so the Bradenton resident was picking up sandbags Wednesday afternoon to prevent that from happening during Hurricane Matthew.

“It does flood in my area,” he said. “There is absolutely no drainage whatsoever.”

Roby said he is praying that the sandbags work.

“I was completely unprepared and taken by surprise,” Roby said of Hermine.

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson

Manatee County sandbag distribution locations

Buffalo Creek Park, 7550 69th St. E., Palmetto

G.T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton

Lakewood Ranch Park, 5350 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton

Stormwater Operations, 5511 39th St. E., Bradenton

Rubonia Community Center, 1309 72nd St. E., Palmetto