Central Florida officials monitor Hurricane Ian progress, schools remain open for now
Polk residents load up sandbags. Image via Twitter.

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Schools in some counties anticipate campus closures come Wednesday.

The latest forecasts show Hurricane Ian threatening Florida’s west coast, but then crossing the state. That means Central Florida faces threats of heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds.

“Our Office of Emergency Management continues to monitor the shifting track of Tropical Storm Ian,” tweeted Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “Stay prepared. Residents should have essential supplies and an emergency preparedness plan for their family and pets.”

Orange County emergency officials have set up self-serve sandbag sites at Barnett Park, Bithlo Community Park, Downey Park, Meadow Woods Park and West Orange Recreational Complex.

Osceola County emergency operations officials similarly warned the storm poses a greater threat to Central Florida than most expected this weekend.

Unlike some coastal schools, the University of Central Florida continues with normal operations today.

Schools remain open throughout the region. Polk County School officials say they are monitoring storms and assessing the situation daily.

“At this time, it is still too early to announce school closures,” reads a message on the Polk County Schools website. “If current forecasts hold, we will likely announce school closures for Wednesday and Thursday. Again, no decision to close schools has been made at this time. However, I feel it is important to give you as much information as possible so you can plan accordingly.”

But Polk County has closed all campgrounds and wetland areas in Circle B Bar Reserve, Crooked Lake Prairie, Crooked Lake Sandhill, Gator Creek Reserve, Hickory Lake Scrub, Lakeland Highlands Scrub, Marshall Hampton Reserve, North Walk-in-Water Creek, Peace River Hammock, Sherwood L. Stokes Preserve, Alafia Reserve and SUMICA. All county-run youth and adult sports leagues have events canceled until further notice.

Osceola County Schools similarly announced an intention to stay open Monday and Tuesday.

“The storm’s track and projected impact to Osceola County should have more clarity as we move through the start of the week. As decisions are made for the remainder of the week, parents will be notified via the call-out system, Remind, social media, and on district websites,” reads a tweet sent out by the Osceola district.

Polk County emergency operations officials are providing sandbags at locations in Mulberry, Fort Meade, Auburdale, Dundee, Lakeland, Frostproof and Poinciana Park.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



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