Hurricane Michael: Local state of emergency declared in Manatee County

Manatee County provides sandbags at three locations

Manatee County is handing out sandbags in preparation for the approach of Hurricane Michael at three locations.
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Manatee County is handing out sandbags in preparation for the approach of Hurricane Michael at three locations.

Manatee County commissioners declared a local state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Michael to hit northern Florida.

Commissioners heard from Manatee County Steve Litschauer, interim director of the Manatee County Emergency Management Center, during a meeting Tuesday morning and declared the local state of emergency.

Litschauer briefed the board on Hurricane Michael’s current trajectory. While Manatee County isn’t in the forecast cone, he explained that the area could see strong winds.

Interim Manatee County Emergency Chief Steve Litschauer briefs the Board of County Commissioners on the status of Hurricane Michael. The area should see wind gusts of 30- to 40-mph but a little less than 5 inches of rain, he explained. Ryan Callihan

“At this point we see no need for school closing or opening shelters. We won’t see more than 30- to 40-mph wins, but those are gusts that people need to be aware of,” Litschauer explained.

While rain isn’t expected to be a major factor, county workers set up three locations Tuesday to disperse sandbags to residents. Litschauer said the sandbags would be helpful for those dealing directly with the effects of a storm surge of up to 2 feet.

Manatee County is handing out sandbags in three locations as preparation for Hurricane Michael. At the G.T. Bray Park location, there were few cars arriving Tuesday morning. Tiffany Tompkins

As long as Hurricane Michael stays to the east, the interim director said, Manatee County should be mostly in the clear of any extreme damages or harm, though he did note that the western edge of the storm seemed to be most dangerous as of Tuesday.

He asked the board to declare a local state of emergency out of an abundance of caution.

The local state of emergency, Litschauer said, will help the county keep track of expenses related to the storm and could make them eligible for reimbursements from other government agencies.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott included Manatee County in an expansion of his declaration of a state of emergency Monday that now encompasses 35 counties.

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Manatee County is under storm surge and tropical storm watches.

Public safety officials urged residents to watch for standing water in addition to wind gusts.

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall in the northeastern Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm on Wednesday.