News Cast 9/28

News Cast for September 28th:

A major hurricane targets Port Charlotte

Hurricane Ian strengthened over night but officials said it is also moving quicker. Hurricane warnings are up for our listening area today and there is also risk of tornadoes. All local governments around the region are closed as are all local schools. Shelters in Okeechobee include the health department for special needs.

South Elementary opened at 10 am for a general population shelter that is pet friendly. Denise Whitehead with Okeechobee County said the worst for Okeechobee will be this afternoon and evening. She said there were no mandatory evacuations.

Glades County has voluntary evacuations in low lying areas. They opened a shelter at West Glades School Tuesday night and special needs shelters are available in LaBelle. Emergency Management Director Marisa Shivers said their Emergency Operations Center is fully activated.

“We are prepared to respond.  If citizens have any questions they can (863) 946-0566.

State officials said they are ready to respond once the storm is over.  They expect a lot of damage on the west coast with wind speeds now at 155 miles per hour.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Petronis said the state is prepared. He called it the largest mobilization in the state’s history.

Law enforcement will be patrolling until conditions get too windy.

Osceola Sheriff Marcos Lopez points out penalties are worse if you commit a crime during a disaster.

“We have zero tolerance for crime during a storm.  IF you commit a crime during the emergency the penalty can increase by 300 percent.”

He was also warning about price gouging.

All the locks around Lake Okeechobee are closed for safety. Florida Power and Light has 19,000 linemen from 30 states ready to go to work as power outages are expected to be rampant. Crews will work around the clock to restore power.

Within the next 3 hours, you will see a significant change in the weather patterns here in Okeechobee. Please stay off the roadways as emergency crews travel through the area, ensuring everyone is prepared during and, more so, after the storm. Okeechobee EOC – has lines open for all questions or concerns from 7am-7pm; please call them for non-emergency questions about shelters, sandbags, etc. related to this storm. Their number is 863-824-6888.

The City of Fort Pierce is continuing to monitor Hurricane Ian and preparing for any potential impact. As of 7:00 AM, Hurricane Ian was located 65 miles SSW of Naples, FL. Ian has sustained winds of 155 mph and is traveling NNE at 9 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend 40 miles out from the center of the storm. Ian is expected to make landfall today as a Category 4 storm. A Tropical Storm Warning remains for Florida’s east coast.  Locally, we are under a Tornado Watch this morning along with a Flood Warning. With Ian’s more southern track, expected rainfall in our area has increased to a total of 6- 8 inches through Sunday, with isolated areas receiving 10-12 inches. We should experience 30- 35 mph sustained winds along with possible gusts to 55 mph beginning tonight through Thursday. St. Lucie County opened an information line for residents to call for storm information.  It will be answered from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.  The number is 772-460-4357. 
 
NEW UPDATES 

Shelters 
St. Lucie County Public Safety Department, along with its community partners, will open three hurricane shelters, including the medical special needs and pet-friendly shelters, beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29.  There are currently no recommended evacuations for St. Lucie County at this time. However, in an abundance of caution, St. Lucie County’s Emergency Management Team is opening shelters for those living in manufactured homes and low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.  

The following shelters will open in St. Lucie County at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29 

· Special Needs Shelter: Havert L. Fenn, 2000 Virginia Ave, Fort Pierce, Fla. 34982 

· Pet-Friendly Shelter: Fort Pierce Westwood Academy, 1801 Panther Lane, Fort Pierce, Fla. 34947 

· General Population Shelter: Fort Pierce Central High School, 4101 S 25th St., Fort Pierce, Fla. 34981

Sand Distribution Replenished 
The free self-serve sandbag stations are being replenished for residents at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreamland Park (S. 25th St.), Pioneer Park (Ave M and N. 29th St.), and Jaycee Park (South Hutchinson Island). Residents should bring their own bags and a shovel. Parks are open daily from dawn to dusk. For more info regarding sand distribution, please call the Public Works Department at 772-467-3794. 

Closures  
City Hall will be closed to the public, Wednesday, September 28, and Thursday, September 29.

St. Lucie Public Schools and district offices will be closed Wednesday, September 28, and Thursday, September 29. 

State of Emergency Declared 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency for all 67 counties on Saturday, September 24. St. Lucie County declared a Local State of Emergency at 9 a.m. on September 27. The City of Fort Pierce declared a State of Emergency at 11:00 AM, September 27. 

Solid Waste  
Solid Waste collection will continue to run as normal. Please refrain from cutting down vegetation or doing major projects until the system passes. Residents should not place any additional debris at the curb as it may block surface stormwater flow.  

Communication 
We are committed to keeping our residents safe and informed – all public notices will be provided on the city’s website at www.cityoffortpierce.com, social media channels, and Fort Pierce TV Channel 27. Residents are also encouraged to sign up for St. Lucie County’s Alert St. Lucie program to get emergency notifications sent directly to their phone, email, or text:  www.stlucieco.gov/Alert