Storm Watch

County officials, school district, announce preliminary plans related to Hurricane Ian.


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Posted September 26, 2022 | Staff report

In an emergency meeting held at 2 p.m. Monday, the Marion County Board of County Commissioners issued a local state of emergency in response to the threat of Hurricane Ian.

The action activates the Marion County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and grants authority to the county administrator, Mounir Bouyounes, “in consultation with the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, Carl Zalak, power, authority and duty to take any and all actions under the plan necessary for the preservation of the health, welfare and safety of the people of Marion County, including, but not limited to, the authority to designate essential County staff who will have assignments during, and immediately following the storm event, and to order the closure of normal County operations as circumstances dictate until the emergency has passed.”

The declaration also dedicates county staff to support the efforts of the Division of Emergency Management under the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), which coordinates overall county response to the emergency.

Nine sandbag operations are currently operating until 7 p.m. tonight, according to a post by the MCSO.  Those locations are:

Dunnellon City Complex, 11808 N Ohio St., Dunnellon

Wrigley Field, 405 County Road East 316, Citra

East Marion Sports Complex, 14445 NE 14th St. Road, Silver Springs

Belleview Sports Complex, 6501 SE 107th St., Belleview

Jervey Gantt Park, 2200 SE 36th Ave., Ocala

Tuscawilla Park (Reilly Arts Center), 800 NE Sanchez Ave., Ocala

Hampton Center, 1501 W Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, FL

Martel Recycling Center, 296 SW 67th Ave., Ocala

Marion Oaks, 294 Marion Oaks Lane, Ocala, (behind the Community Center)

The sheriff’s office indicated they would reopen the sandbag stations on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and continue until operations are shut down. The MCSO noted that sandbag locations are self-serve and officials are asking that citizens limit their consumption to 10 bags a vehicle. One county commissioner asked during the meeting if there might be a possibility to recruit volunteers to help the elderly or anyone else who might need assistance filling bags and that was being investigated.

Marion County Public Schools announced this afternoon that they will close district-wide Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday will be a regular school day; however, West Port High School will switch to virtual learning so the school can transition into a special needs shelter. All extra-curricular activities district-wide Tuesday are cancelled.

West Port High, 3733 SW 80th Ave., will open Tuesday at 5 p.m. as a special needs shelter. The following schools will open Wednesday at 12 p.m. as additional shelters:

Belleview Middle, 10500 SE 36th Ave.

Dunnellon High, 10055 SW 180th Ave. Road

Fort McCoy School, 16160 NE CR 315

Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary, 4397 SW 95th St.

North Marion Middle, 2085 W. County Road 329

Vanguard High (pet friendly; 7 NW 28th St.

For more information about sheltering, call the Marion County Citizens Information Hotline at 352-369-7500.

Citizens can go to www.marionso.com or visit the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for updates.

In addition, Emergency Management officials are encouraging all Marion County citizens to sign up for the emergency notification system, Alert Marion.  Sign up for text message alerts, emails, and phone calls for severe weather at www.alertmarion.com.

During the emergency meeting, county administration indicated that in the event there is substantial damage the county, workers will first clear roadways and then discuss whether or not to do bulk curbside pickup of storm debris.