The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is closing three of its Bay Pines system locations in advance of Tropical Storm Ian.
Closures are in effect at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center Monday through Thursday, including its Emergency Department.
North Pinellas and St. Petersburg VA clinics will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
VA clinics in Sarasota, Bradenton and Port Charlotte will close Wednesday only.
Facilities in Naples, Florida and Sebring, Virginia and the Lee County Healthcare Center are for now not affected. The scope of closures may change as more clarity on the storm’s path comes into view in the coming hours and days.
“Out of an abundance of caution, and for the safety of our Veterans and staff, I have made the decision to close these locations in advance of Tropical Storm Ian,” said Bay Pines VA Director and CEO Paul M. Russo. “We will reopen as soon as the storm has passed and when it is safe to do so.”
The VA is encouraging individuals to ensure they are prepared for the storm, noting wide uncertainty in the storm’s current projected path. Individuals can obtain information to ensure they are hurricane ready at the VA’s Emergency Preparedness webpage.
If a veteran is experiencing an emergency, they should call 911.
Tropical Storm Ian is currently located southeast of Cuba, with hurricane watches in effect for portions of the Gulf coast of Florida including the Tampa Bay area and areas to the north and south.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that “regardless of Ian’s exact track and intensity, there is a risk of a life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds, and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of this week.”