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With Hurricane Irma making an eastward and then northern shift in some forecasting models, people in Gainesville, Florida are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Is Gainesville evacuating in advance of Irma?
As of September 6, the city had yet to announce a mandatory evacuation order. Gainesville’s emergency management team wrote on Facebook on September 6: “We have not ordered any evacuations at this time. Also, we do not have evacuation zones. Typically, evacuation zones are reserved for coastal counties, as those evacuations are very closely tied to anticipated flooding due to hurricanes and tropical storms. While we do not have ‘zones,’ we will often specify certain areas more prone to flooding (low elevation), as well as individuals in mobile homes for evacuations. If we do order evacuations, we will communicate that via social media and press release.”
Hurricane conditions are now listed as possible for Sunday night in Gainesville, according to the National Weather Service.
The City of Gainesville has a list of Hurricane preparation suggestions here.
Alachua County, which Gainesville is in, was operating at level two on September 6. “The Alachua County Emergency Operations Center is at a level 2 activation. Current forecasts show Hurricane Irma potentially impacting Alachua County Saturday evening, September 9, 2017,” the county wrote on its Emergency Management website.
“The 11pm National Hurricane Center advisory shows Irma continuing on a similar projection as the NHC’s previous update. Maximum sustained winds are still around 185mph and Irma is likely to make landfall in Florida as a category 4 or 5 storm. We will work closely with our local National Weather Service office in Jacksonville to convey any local threats expected for our area, including high winds and excessive rainfall/flooding. In the meantime, please prepare your home, family, and pets,” the County’s Emergency Management Office posted on Facebook on September 6.
The county made the following announcements about shelters on its website:
“Two shelters will open Friday, September 8, 2017 at 10 a.m.: A special needs shelter at the Alachua County Senior Center (5701 N.W. 34th Blvd., Gainesville), and a general population shelter located at The Easton Newberry Sports Complex (24880 N.W. 16th Ave., Newberry). Citizens needing to arrange special needs transportation to the special needs shelter may call the following phone numbers beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 7, 2017: (352) 955-2575, (352) 955-2576, (352) 955-2577, or (352) 955-2579.”
You can see a map of the county’s shelters here.
For those considering using the emergency shelters, the county noted, “please remember that general population shelters are a last resort, and should only be used by those living in homes that are potentially unsafe in high winds (e.g. mobile homes), people who live in flood-prone areas, and people who have nowhere else to go.”
The county provided the following information on the General Population Shelters: “Located at the Newberry Archery Center (24880 NW 16th Avene, Newberry) general population shelters do not provide cots or beds. Bring any needed bedding. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods, baby food, diapers (and other child necessities), prescription medications, a small cooler of ice if refrigeration is needed as the shelter cannot be responsible for your medications. Also bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.”
The county added, “The special needs shelter has cots available. Please be sure that you bring all medications, medical supplies, hygiene products, medical equipment (i.e. pumps, batteries, charges, A/C Adapters, etc.) If a person requires constant care, the appropriate caregiver is required come to the shelter and stay with the person requiring care.”
Gainesville is giving out sandbags.
Hurricane Irma Sandbag locations are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the county said, noting, “please bring a shovel to expedite the process:”
ALACHUA: 15001 NW 140TH ST
ARCHER: Fire Department, 17128 SW Archer Road
CROSS CREEK: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Park, 18800 S CR 325
GAINESVILLE: Public Works Department, 405 NW 39th AVE
HAGUE: Hague Wayside Park, 11855 NW US 441
HAWTHORNE: Sewage Treatment Plant, 23016 SE 65th LN
HIGH SPRINGS: Memorial Park, 17380 NW US HWY 441
NEWBERRY: Public Works Compound, 120 NW 260th ST
WALDO: Water Tower, 4750 Week Street
WINDSOR: Fire Department, 1401 SE CR 234
The Florida Keys and some areas of Broward County had mandatory evacuation orders as of September 6.