MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a Category 1 storm by the National Hurricane Center late Wednesday night. Still, a flash flood warning is in effect for multiple counties in the Tampa Bay area.
While the flood warning is active for Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, Sarasota, and Polk counties, the Manatee County government started preparing its utility and recovery crews for post-storm assistance.
Manatee officials said they were mobilizing as “winds from Hurricane Ian are beginning to subside,” and are getting ready to start recovery efforts. Fuel was being taken to three shelters to power up fuel generators at Braden River High School, Lee Middle School, and Bayshore Elementary School.
The mobilization announcement by Manatee County came as more than two million residents were without power in Florida from the impacts of Hurricane Ian. Florida had already mobilized over 40,000 power restoration personnel in preparation for Ian making landfall. When the storm arrived Wednesday afternoon, there were hundreds of shelters across the state ready for evacuees and crews were waiting to perform search and rescue efforts after the hurricane’s passage.
“Utilities crews are mobilizing to help restore wastewater service. More than 200 lift stations were off-line across the county due to power outages—more than 28% of the system,” Manatee officials said in their announcement. “Crews will deploy generators to get those lift stations operational again—starting with master lift stations.”
Their First In Teams will start work “early Thursday to help clear SR-70” to let in power crews from Florida Power & Light. The county said there were at least 134,000 FPL customers without power as of 11:30 p.m.
The FIT crews will also clear paths to Anna Maria Island so utility crews can restore the island’s sewer service and potable water system, according to officials.
“It’s all hands on deck,” said Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said. “But it is important we all pitch in to do we do the work that matters.”
Those in need of help can contact the county at 941-748-4501 or by going online.