MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) — With Idalia moving closer to the Tampa Bay area, residents are doing what they can to prepare for the storm.
On Manatee County’s barrier islands, sandbag stations were busy throughout the day Monday, with storm surge a big concern for both residents and business owners.
Scott Mason of Scott’s Deli on Holmes Beach was loading up his vehicle with sandbags in the morning to make sure his business is as ready as it can be for the threat of rising water.
“We’ve actually been pretty lucky the last few years. Last year with Ian, it just missed us, and we didn’t get much of the storm surge at all, but I think this year with the moon being full and the king tide, it is going to be a little bit different,” said Mason. “We’ve got a lot invested into our business, so it is going to be a few days of being a little worried for sure,” he continued.
Even some longtime island residents were on edge Monday.
“We get kind of lucky every time. The reason why I am a little worried about this one is because it is taking a similar parallel along the west coast route to Eta a few years ago, and we had pretty considerable storm surge affects from Eta even though the weather wasn’t that bad,” said Josh Scheible. “It is a scary situation for the low lying areas of Anna Maria,” he continued.
County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents living in zone A which includes the barrier islands and areas along the Manatee River. They’re urging the public to heed their warnings.
“I would rather tell them tomorrow or the next day, I am sorry you evacuated for a day, but you are safe, you are alive than having someone have to go to the funeral because they waited, they can’t get out, and they are in a flood area,” said Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer.
Further inland, county officials say the National Guard will be setting up a ‘tiger dam’ along the Riverwalk to protect generators and patients at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
“The ability to not have to evacuate like we did during Irma, because that takes more than a day and a half or two days to relocate those patients, so we are trying to be proactive to keep those patients there, and make sure they are in good care,” said Litschauer.