ST. LUCIE COUNTY— The county, now under a Hurricane warning and local state of emergency, is making preparations as Tropical Storm Nicole rolls toward Florida.
One of those preparations includes activating the Emergency Operations Center to a Level 1 status, according to spokesperson Erick Gill.
“Our area will feel tropical storm force winds starting Wednesday afternoon and will continue through Thursday afternoon,” County Administrator Howard Tipton said during a Tuesday-afternoon news briefing.
Coastal flooding and beach erosion are top concerns, Tipton added, especially since there’s a projected 3-5-foot storm surge with seas as high as 30 feet here.
As a result, all beaches will be closed by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
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The county will assess beaches after the storm to determine damages, Tipton said.
Residents who live on the barrier island, in low-lying areas or in mobile-homes are encouraged to evacuate, according to county Public Safety Director Ron Guerrero.
A mandatory evacuation may have been ordered if the rainfall was expected to be heavier, winds were stronger and if the storm turned into anything beyond a Category 1 Hurricane, according to Tipton.
County officials also are encouraging residents to put up shutters Tuesday.
“Our experience over seven hurricanes, probably in the last 15 years, is that the majority of injuries happen both in the pre-storm and post-storm phase,” Fire District Chief Nate Spera said. “… Help your neighbors out if they’re trying to (put shutters up) in advance of the storm.”
The county will be opening the following shelters 10 a.m. Wednesday:
- Fort Pierce Westwood Academy (pet-friendly): 1801 Panther Lane, Fort Pierce
- Treasure Coast High School: 1000 SW Darwin Blvd, Port St. Lucie
- Havert L. Fenn Center (special-needs shelter): 2000 Virginia Ave, Fort Pierce
Shelters will remain open as long as needed, Tipton said.
Bridges to the barrier Island are expected to remain open, unless winds exceed 40 mph for a sustained period of time, according to Gill.
No curfews were planned as of Tuesday afternoon, county officials said.
The county’s transit system will remain open until noon Wednesday. Para-transit services will only be running dialysis trips Wednesday. Advantage Ride services will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Waste Pro will continue to pick up trash Wednesday as long as the weather permits, Tipton said.
Officials will make a decision Wednesday if trash collection will continue Thursday.
St. Lucie schools are closed Wednesday through Friday, but are expected to open Monday, according to Superintendent Jon Prince. Schools already were to be closed Friday for Veterans Day.
“Remember that we had a storm over on the west coast that took a big jog to the south at the very last minute, so please be aware,” said state Rep. Toby Overdorf (R-Palm City).
Call 772-460-4357, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., for questions or concerns.
Residents can report flooding by emailing details, including street addresses and images, to [email protected].