Ahead of what is expected to become Hurricane Idalia, Hernando County has issued mandatory evacuations for all areas west of US 19, including evacuation zones A, B, and C, effective at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29. All residents living in coastal and low-lying areas, as well as manufactured homes throughout the county, are included in the mandatory evacuation order. Public shelters opened at noon on Monday, Aug. 28.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Idalia formed as a Tropical Storm near Cancun, Mexico, on Sunday. As the storm marched across the Gulf of Mexico, the NHC issued storm surge and hurricane warnings for the west coast of Florida at 11 a.m. on Monday. Idalia is expected to drench the area with heavy rains late Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon and is predicted to make landfall in Florida as a major hurricane on Wednesday.
In response, Hernando County Emergency Management (HCEM) advised all residents of the County who live in coastal and low-lying areas or in manufactured homes to seek safe shelter with family or friends who live in safe structures or shelter at public shelters at public schools in the county. Shelters open to the general population are located at the Nature Coast Technical High School (NCT), 4057 California St. in Brooksville, FL 34604, and Hernando High School, 111 Ernie Chatman Run, Brooksville, FL 34601.
A pet-friendly general population shelter is located at the D.S. Parrott Middle School, 19220 Youth Dr. in Brooksville.
A Special Needs Shelter is located at West Hernando Middle School, 14325 Ken Austin Pkwy., in Brooksville.
Those who need to relocate to the special needs shelter and have pets may arrange transportation for their pets to a pet-friendly shelter through the Animal Control Department of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. Call the Hernando County Public Information Center (PIC) at 352-754-4083 to request a pick-up.
Those whose pets require care at pet-friendly shelter facilities should bring their own appropriately-sized pet crates, proof of up-to-date pet vaccinations, all the pet’s medications, several days’ worth of food, a leash and collar, and toys that may calm the pet.
Also, bring a sheet to cover the cages of fearful or shy animals, a muzzle for animals that are predisposed to bite, some decoration to distinguish each pet’s crate from another, and a spray cleaner and paper towels to clean the animal’s crate.
Animals will not be housed in the same section as their owners, but they will have access to their pets.
Meanwhile, sandbags will be available to county residents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Linda Pedersen Park, 6300 Shoal Line Blvd., Spring Hill, Anderson Snow Park, 1360 Anderson Snow Rd., Spring Hill; the Ridge Manor Community Center, 34240 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor; and at the City of Brooksville Department of Public Works, 600 S Brooksville Ave., Brooksville.
According to the HCEMS, the self-serve sandbag sites will remain open until weather conditions begin to deteriorate.
Residents should bring their own shovels, and those visiting the Anderson Snow Park site should enter the facility through the service road between the park and the gymnastics facility.
According to Hernando County Public Information Coordinator Dominique Holmes, the County’s Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the progress of the storm.
More information will be posted on the Hernando County Emergency Management website at www.HernandoCounty.us/EM and on the county’s social media pages as it becomes available, Holmes said.