As Andrea bares down, St. Pete officials boast hurricane preparedness listen06/06/13 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
As parts of Florida continue to take a pounding from Tropical Storm Andrea, St. Petersburg City Council members unanimously voted to make this June hurricane awareness month. The measure was brought forward by council member Wengay Newton and referenced superstorm Sandy that devastated parts of the Northeast last year.
â€œDrove a catastrophic storm surge into New Jersey and New York coastline â€“ preliminary U.S. damages estimated at nearly $50 billion, making Sandy the second largest cyclone to hit the U.S. since 1900, resulting in at least 147 direct deaths. And whereas the forecasters predict increased tropical storm activity in 2013 and whereas we remain in a period of increased severe weather activity â€“ just like today.â€
A tornado in Gulfport damaged homes and knocked a tree on top of Yummyâ€™s restaurant on Beach Boulevard. Parts of St. Petersburg and surrounding areas are at high risk for flooding. City Council member Jeff Danner said sandbags are available for residents at Bartlett Park and the Mangrove Bay Gulf Course.
â€œWell we have a lot of low-lying areas; we are a waterfront community so when we have a storm situation like that. We typically get some flooding in Snell Isle and our waterfront areas, so itâ€™s a pretty common thing that we keep these on hand and make these available.â€
The sandbags can be picked up anytime before 8 oâ€™clock tonight. Even after the storm has passed, rising waters from storm surge could extend flood risks. And tornado warnings have been issued intermittently across the region throughout the day. Danner said the city is always prepared for these situations.
â€œWe have our disaster mitigation plan thatâ€™s always in effect. I mean, typically first clearing the police and fire stations of any debris and then they get out in the roads to clear the main roads first â€“ get the traffic signals back on â€“ kind of our standard procedure.â€
There is a silver lining. Danner said that the early-season tropical storm could serve as a reminder to residents that hurricanes are a very real threat to the area.
â€œWhen we have mild winters like we had weâ€™re always in that different situation. So, yeah, people need to be aware. Itâ€™s been a few years since weâ€™ve had some serious storms and we need to get your home preparedness ready, get your window boarding, all that kind of stuff ready. You know, it is hurricane season.â€
Sandbags are available for Tampa residents at three locations until 6 p.m. Thursday. Proof of residency is required to pick-up bags from the Himes Sports Complex, Jackson Heights Playground, or the City of Tampa Solid Waste building on Spruce Street. Some other municipalities also have sandbags available.