Hurricane Ian is on the way. Yesterday, the Highlands County Commission, the Highlands School Board and the Avon Park city council have declared states of local emergency in preparation for the big storm. Forecasters now say Ian could come ashore near Ft. Myers – in the same manner as Hurricane Charlie.
In his briefing yesterday, Highlands County Emergency Management Services Director Brian Newhouse told commissioners, at that time, he expected at least 7-10 inches of rain, with as much as 15-inches in some places.
He noted most lakes already are pretty full and flooding will be likely. Meanwhile, sand and sandbags still are available. As of yesterday morning, the county had given out nearly 12,000 sandbags for filling. For those who do not have bags, heavy duty construction trash bags also will do.
Highlands County students went to classes today, but schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
South Florida State College has postponed classes today through Thursday.
The county currently is at a Level 2 activation and will go to Level 3 this afternoon. All county and city offices will be closed tomorrow.
Highlands County officials have issued a VOLUNTARY evacuation notice for those living in flood-prone and non-slab-built homes. At this time, the shelters that have been opened are the SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTER at the Bert j. Harris Agri-Civic Center on George Blvd. and a GENERAL POPULATION SHELTER at the Alan Jay Arena at the Highlands County Fairgrounds in Sebring. Both are slated to open this afternoon at 4pm.
Authorities caution all users; shelters only provide a space. Food and water will not be provided. Those attending must bring all of their own supplies.
Avon Park city council members last night took action to move ahead with a couple of agreements that will allow disaster response teams to stage out of the Avon Park airport. They first approved an agreement with Duke Energy to set up their disaster response equipment, then approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Department of Emergency Management to set up their operation at the airport in a time of crisis.