Manatee officials: find shelter or hunker down by 8 p.m.

  • Sep 9, 2017

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Sept. 9, 2017) – Manatee County officials today stressed the need to find shelter or hunker down by 8 p.m. tonight, and passed along several safety tips for Hurricane Irma's expected arrival tomorrow.

"We need folks to stay calm," County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said. "You need to find shelter or hunker down by 8 p.m. tonight. Once tropical storm-force winds begin, it could be up to 72 hours before first responders can get to you."

Five of Manatee's now 25 shelters are filled to capacity, and others are filling quickly. Four local shelters have room for about 3,400 more people: Gullett, Williams, Willis and Witt elementary schools. 

Manatee County remains at a mandatory Level A and voluntary Level B evacuation one day ahead of Hurricane Irma's expected arrival. 

Access to Manatee and Cortez bridges will be restricted onto Anna Maria Island tonight at 6 p.m. tonight. 

Public Safety Director Bob Smith passed along several preparedness for anyone who has decided to stay at home through the storm: 

  • Fill containers up to 2/3 full with tap water and freeze. 
  • Designate a safe room away from windows and the exterior of a home. Remember to bring supplies and a radio into the room.
  • Stay calm. Try to keep children calm and occupied during high winds.  
  • Do not step outside or leave your home during the storm unless there is a fire.  
  • Do not feed the generator into your home power. Only power items directly from a generator located outside the home.

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.