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Manatee County officials urge residents to evacuate, as some defy orders

Manatee County Administrator hurricane press conference
Screenshot of Facebook Live
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Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes pleaded with residents to heed evacuation protocols.

Heightened evacuation protocols took effect Tuesday with residents living in Level A and B areas required to evacuate. Those living in Level C zones are under voluntary evacuation orders.

Manatee County officials pleaded with residents to follow evacuation orders during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

National Hurricane Center projections have Hurricane Ian, now a Category 3 storm, making landfall near Venice Beach by Wednesday evening — with outer bands of strong winds and rain arriving as soon as Tuesday night.

Projection NWS Manatee

Manatee County administrator Scott Hopes said residents in coastal towns from Longboat Key to Anna Maria Island are defying the county's orders.

"If you're on the island — leave," he said. "Do us that one favor."

He was joined by Deputy Director Steve Litschauer, who oversees the county's public safe and emergency management department, and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, who assured residents that Manatee County has the full support of FEMA.

Heightened evacuation protocols took effect Tuesday with residents living in Level A and B zones required to evacuate. Those living in Level C zones are under voluntary evacuation orders.

Officials urged residents to take immediate action.

"Let me tell you what makes me lose sleep. In this situation, it's people not heeding the warning and not evacuating," Hopes said. "My goal for this stage of the emergency is no fatalities."

Search your address to find your evacuation level in Manatee County using this dashboard. A searchable map of evacuation levels is also viewable here.

Evacuation zones Manatee
Screenshot of Manatee County website

Officials warned that county-managed water and sewage services will be preemptively turned off Tuesday evening ahead of the storm.

"By sundown, there will be no water," Hopes said.

Residents should heed evacuation protocols immediately to relocate inland with family and friends — or to an emergency hurricane shelter, if necessary. Manatee County activated two additional shelters to meet demand at Buffalo Creek Middle School and Haile Middle School.

Find open emergency shelters near you with this updated Google Map guide.

Hopes stressed the importance of moving quickly, while roads are drivable and emergency vehicles are able to respond.

"I will not put my employees at risk because you failed to take our mandatory evacuation order seriously," Hopes said.

For more information on evacuation levels and routes, visit www.mymanatee.org/weather or call 3-1-1.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.