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Manatee County Prepares for 2020 Hurricane Season

Members of the Manatee County Emergency Management Department held a virtual hurricane preparedness seminar on Thursday.

Department director, Steve Litschauer, said residents should adopt some changes to their traditional hurricane preparations, like expanding supply kits for sheltering in place for a storm.

"We used to talk about having a kit ready for three to five days, now it's a week or more,"Litschauer said.

With some grocery items and sanitizing supplies running low on shelves due to the coronavirus pandemic, Litschauer recommended for people to start stocking up on supplies, now.

Litschauer encouraged people to take advantage of the seven day tax holiday for disaster items that starts on Friday.

"Start shopping now, don’t hoard," Litschauer said. "Start stocking up and not wait for a storm to come around."

Another big change in hurricane preparedness for this season in Manatee County is the capacity of evacuation shelters.

Litschauer said the recommended amount of space per individual or family unit in a shelter has tripled, going from 20 square feet per person to 60 square feet per person, according to social distancing guidelines.

"What that does to our general population shelters is bring it down to 35.4% of its capacity," Litschauer said.

Litschauer recommended for people only consider going to an evacuation shelter as a last resort, and said those who go to shelters will also be required to bring their own personal protective equipment like face masks and hand sanitizer.

Litschauer urged people that are oxygen or electricity dependent or those suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia to register with the county as soon as possible, so the county can make plans for special needs shelters.

Supplies Manatee County.PNG Manatee County Department of Emergency Management

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/ Manatee County Department of Emergency Management

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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