Collier County Emergency Management provided its protective strategy in preparation for Hurricane Ian’s effects on Southwest Florida.
Being on the right-paralleling quadrant of the storm is what makes storm surge a main concern.
“Our focus is continuing to be on storm surge and localized flooding, not so much winds,” Director of Emergency Services Dan Summers said. “So, a high degree of confidence that we’re not going to hit hurricane force winds but more concern about the lower wind speeds and that constant onshore flow.”
Collier County issued a voluntary evacuation notice for those living in the immediate coastal areas, west and south of U.S. 41/Tamiami Trail, in low-lying flood-prone areas and mobile homes.
Residents in Zone A are at the highest risk for storm surge inundation. Emergency Management will open a special needs shelter at Palmetto Ridge High School at 5 p.m. today. This will be open to those with medical needs that depend on electricity and there will be oxygen accommodations. Clients must come with their own medical supplies, food, bedding, and a caregiver.
Four middle schools will open at 5 p.m. today for those who are voluntarily evacuating: Oak Ridge Middle School, Corkscrew Middle School, Golden Gate Middle School, and Immokalee Middle School. These centers are pet friendly. Collier Area Transit will have buses set up for transportation to shelters.
“We have a real significant storm paralleling our coast, the forecast model right now appears to be very reliable, or the Hurricane Center has a fair amount of confidence in that forecast track as it parallels offshore to us,” Summers said. “But we also know that things can change. When we see a storm of this intensity, understand your flood risk.”
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk emphasized making final preparations during the day and settling in.
“Simply stay out of standing water with you or your car, that’s pretty simple,” Rambosk said. “If you don’t have to be out, don’t go out, it’s that simple. I will tell you that fire rescue and EMS working together are fully functional and they will incrementally increase overnight.”
In the case of a power outage, residents are asked to stay away from any downed power lines and call their utility company, so the address is recorded in their system. Calling 911 is discouraged unless in an extreme emergency condition.
If residents see localized flooding, take a picture, and send it to Collier 311 for Emergency Management to mitigate the circumstances by clearing debris and cleaning storm drains if able.