Palm Beach County mayor tells residents ‘you shouldn’t panic’
Officials in Palm Beach County said Tuesday they’re “diligently preparing” as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida.
The county is currently under a tropical storm warning, meaning there's an increased potential for sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour over the next 36 hours.
"It's important to plan, it's important to prepare, but you shouldn't panic," Mayor Robert Weinroth said at a news conference Tuesday. "This is something that we go through on almost an annual basis, and we're prepared for this and we're built for this, so we're able to deal with these storms as they come on us."
The county's Emergency Operations Center is now at Level Two, meaning essential county staff members are prepared to respond to any storm-related emergencies.
Closed on Wednesday will be all county operations, the courts system, state attorney's office, public defender's office, supervisor of elections office, tax collector's office and property appraiser's office.
In addition, PalmTran services will be suspended Wednesday.
The School District of Palm Beach County said all district-operated schools and offices will be closed Wednesday, and all after-school activities, including sports, school meetings, and leases, will be canceled.
"A decision regarding closures beyond Wednesday is forthcoming," Superintendent Mike Burke said. "That information will be shared with parents and staff in an expedient manner."
The school district has set up a storm information page, which you can see by clicking here.
Palm Beach County's road and bridge department has been working to clear drainage systems to minimize flooding from Hurricane Ian as much as possible.
"We really don't want you on the road. But if you have to go out, please avoid puddles because we don't know how deep they are," county administrator Verdenia Baker said. "Standing water is very, very dangerous."
All Florida Department of Health clinics in Palm Beach County will be closed Wednesday, and the agency will reschedule appointments once they reopen.
There will be no garbage collection Wednesday for Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority customers. A decision about garbage collection for Thursday will be made around 3 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee is in the best condition it's been in decades, and almost all necessary repairs have been completed.
"The lake is about 2 1/2 feet below where it normally is this time of the year," McKinlay said. "So there's plenty of storage space available in the lake."
Earlier on Tuesday, Florida’s director of emergency management urged residents on the west coast of Florida to evacuate to Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.
Florida has partnered with Expedia to help residents find accommodations throughout the state. You can do so by clicking here.
Starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Palm Beach County will activate an emergency information number, which you can call for information about Hurricane Ian. That number is 561-712-6400
Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are under a tropical storm warning, prompting both a flood watch and tornado watch.
A tropical storm warning means tropical storm force winds can be expected in the area within the next 36 hours.
While the center of the storm will stay away from the viewing area, residents will still see winds pick up, heavy rain, and the risk for severe storms.
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