Sunday, August 26, 2012

Menace from Isaac remains, but Manatee awakens encouraged

Manatee County's Emergency Operations Center was fully activated on Sunday. (Herald photo)

MANATEE -- Tropical Storm Isaac has taken a more westerly track into the Gulf of Mexico, one that could have it making landfall near Mobile, Ala.

But that doesn't mean that Manatee County residents should let down their guard, emergency management officials warned Sunday.

Manatee County should anticipate the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac as early as 3 p.m. today through 2 p.m. Monday.

That includes intermittent tropical winds with bands of heavy rain and  surge impact estimates of 3 – 5 feet, according to the 11 a.m. National Weather Service briefing.

Tropical storm winds can carry a 39 – 58 mph punch. During  sustained winds in excess of 40 mph, high-profile vehicles are discouraged from traveling on the roadways.

"Such vehicles include those used by emergency services. Residents are encouraged to stay indoors and off the road," county officials said.

All MCAT buses, including regular routes,the Island Trolley, and hand-bus (Paratransit) will cease operations at 6 p.m. Sunday

Isaac is still a very large storm, said Greg Bacon, one of the emergency operations officers, at an 8 a.m. briefing, as the EOC went into full activation.

Tropical storm winds from Isaac hitting Manatee County mid-afternoon Sunday would be a little sooner than had been previously anticipated.

"Isaac will probably be a Category 1 hurricane about 120 miles west of Manatee County, but it can get closer or farther away," said Bacon. "We will see significant rains. It's a very wide storm and we're expected to see the onset of tropical force winds as early as Sunday afternoon through Monday evening."

Isaac is expected to bring 4 -7 inches of rain between Sunday and Tuesday.

The last of Isaac should exit Manatee County on Monday evening, rather than Tuesday morning.

Storm surge in Manatee County from Isaac is expected to be on the order of three to five feet after the storm passes,  less than originally projected.

The mood in Manatee's Emergency Operations Center seemed to lighten a bit after Bacon reported that Isaac has "moved to the left."

Residents living in low-lying areas and in mobile home parks remain under a voluntary evacuation order out of concern for tropical winds.

A band from Isaac passed through Miami bringing with it a 50 mph gust, Bacon said.

Shelters  opened at Manatee and Braden River high schools at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Manatee High School has been designated the pet friendly shelter. A shelter for special needs persons at Nolan Middle School also opened at 10 a.m.

Manatee County's public schools and State College of Florida have announced that they will be closed on Monday.

A school board meeting Monday night has been postponed, and a decision has not been made on when that meeting would be rescheduled, Margi Nanney, school district spokeswoman said Sunday.

Schools may reopen on Tuesday, but a decision will be made based on winds and Isaac's behavior, she said.

Also closed Monday: Manatee County, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Palmetto government offices, the Manatee Clerk of Courts and Manatee County court system, and Suncoast Workforce Career Center, 3526 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. There will be no garbage collection Monday in Bradenton or in unincorporated Manatee County.

Operations at Port Manatee continue, under "Condition Zulu," meaning that it is closed to boat traffic, said Ron Koper, Manatee County public information officer.

About 150 emergency workers, representing everything from local government, to law enforcement, utilities, and transportation, gathered for the EOC activation on Sunday.

Manatee residents may fill up to 10 sand bags per household on Sunday and Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following distribution points:

Buffalo Creek Golf Course, 8100 69th St. E., Palmetto

G.T. Bray Recreation Center, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W. Bradenton

Lakewood Ranch Park, near Lakewood Ranch High School

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

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

The City of Bradenton is providing free sandbags to city residents 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.  Sunday at the City’s Yard. Enter through the gate off 13th Ave. West – right across from 7th Street West.

Bradenton residents can receive up to 10 sandbags per household with proof of residency.

The Lake Manatee elevation is just under 38 feet. Residents within the Lake Manatee spillway were notified that they may need to evacuate Sunday.

The Manatee County Health Department warned that weather information indicates water levels in the Myakka Head are nearing flood conditions.

"Although skin contact with flood waters does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, health hazards are a concern when waters become contaminated," the health department said in a press release.

Flood waters may contain fecal material, associated bacteria and viruses. It is important that individuals affected by flood water avoid eating or drinking anything that has been contaminated by flood water, do not wade through standing water, and practice basic hygiene including frequent hand washing using soap and clean water.

Owners of private wells that have been flooded or affected by flood waters are urged to boil water before use, holding it at rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking, washing, or cooking, etc.

Water may also be disinfected by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of plain unscented household bleach (4 to 6 percent) per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent contamination.

Residents may also use bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.

For further information, please contact the county health department at 941- 708-8497 or the Florida Emergency Information Line at (800) 342-3557.

Coastal Watches/Warnings and 5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center

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