PINELLAS COUNTY PREPARES FOR ERNESTO by Roxanne Escobales08/29/06
As Floridians monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Ernesto, Pinellas County started preparing for the worst today. And on the one-year anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Pinellas emergency management director said that no plan exists for the mass evacuation of the peninsula.
That was Pinellas County emergency management director Gary Vickers speaking after a Disaster Advisory Committee, or DAC, meeting in Seminole. Despite the lack of a worst case scenario plan for evacuation, the DAC talked through how prepared services should be with the threat of Ernesto looming to the south of the state.
Representatives of the Red Cross and local municipal emergency services attended the meeting and came up with a plan of action if Tropical Storm Ernesto should veer northwestward and affect the Bay area.
ACT: Plan Aâ€¦ Plan B
The Red Cross has one shelter on standby at Northside Baptist church on 38th Avenue North in St Petersburg. And the St Petersburg Salvation Army will open its shelter on 14th Avenue South at 7 Wednesday morning for anyone living on the streets with nowhere safe to stay.
However Pinellas emergency management does not expect a need to evacuate residents. But if the storm veers west, Vickers recommended that mobile home parks be on the ready.
ACT: â€œif they have toâ€?
In Hillsborough County, first responders are standing by, but officials do not expect the Bay area to be badly affected by the tropical storm.
Ernesto is expected to drive up the middle of the state, affecting Polk County. That district has cancelled school for Wednesday in anticipation of the adverse weather.