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Date of Issue: August 20, 2008

Focus on Fay as storm heads for Florida

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Directly from the source
For up-to-the-minute advisories from the National Hurricane Center, go to www.nhc.noaa.gov/index-at.xml.
For local updates, please check www.islander.org regularly through the week.

Fay was predicted to reach hurricane strength as it headed for Florida Monday, but the storm’s path remained unclear.

Manatee County officials prepared for Fay’s impact by opening five shelters - Nolan Middle for special needs, Manatee High, Braden River High, Buffalo Creek Middle and Myakka City Elementary schools - and putting the emergency operations center at a level one, full-activation status. A state of emergency was declared Monday morning, with officials ordering an evacuation of mobile home parks on Anna Maria Island and voluntary evacuation of the Island.

County officials were expected to announce later Monday, after 5 p.m., whether to initiate a mandatory evacuation of the Island.

“Sustained tropical winds will begin Tuesday at 9 a.m., peak traffic time for us. Gale force winds that sustain 58 mph by 2 p.m. The smaller storms are some of the hardest to predict,” county emergency management chief Laurie Feagans said, warning of a storm surge of more than 8 feet on local beaches.

An 11 a.m. Monday advisory from the National Hurricane Center established a hurricane warning for the southwestern Florida coast from Flamingo to Anna Maria Island and urged, “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”

Sarasota County officials on Aug. 17 opened three shelters and ordered the evacuation of mobile home parks and urged residents in low-lying areas and barrier islands to leave.

At Monday at noon, Fay remained a tropical storm level, but with the potential to build as it left Cuba and traveled across warm water.

Fay became a tropical depression Aug. 15 and as early as Aug. 16, with the storm headed toward Haiti, Florida officials were preparing for the worst.

The state’s emergency operations center was activated and emergency management officials began meeting to discuss a response. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency Aug. 17.

By Monday, with Fay having resulted in 30 deaths in Haiti and six in the Dominican Republic, residents of the Florida Keys evacuated.

One forecast put Fay on track to make landfall at Port Charlotte and to swipe Manatee County sometime Tuesday night, possibly as a category 1 hurricane.

Regardless of Fay’s track, forecasters predicted the storm would bring heavy rain to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas this week.