Ken Welch extends state of emergency for St. Pete

St. pete debris hurricane ian
While the area avoided the worst of the hurricane’s path, the tropical storm strength winds and significant rainfall resulted in heaps of debris and lingering power outages.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch has extended the city’s state of emergency for another week after Hurricane Ian left heaps of debris and lingering power outages across the area.

Welch signed off on the order Saturday night. The order details the impact Ian had on the city, bringing 60 mph winds and 4 inches of rain, which was “exacerbated by the fact that the ground was already saturated.” While the area avoided the worst of the hurricane’s path, the tropical storm strength winds and significant rainfall resulted in heaps of debris.

“That combination of factors resulted in widespread power outages in the city and damage to both public and private property,” the order states. “Those impacts continue to pose an immediate danger to the public health, safety, and welfare that requires emergency action.”

The debris generated by the storm includes downed trees, broken limbs and damaged structures — all of which are still being cleaned-up by city crews and residents. The hurricane even claimed the St. Petersburg Dali Museum’s beloved Wish Tree, uprooted after 11 years by Ian.

Last Thursday, the city laid out plans for debris collection, announcing crews will start collecting debris from residential homes on Monday. Only green vegetation will be collected, and residents are asked to sort out any normal garbage or other construction materials from the vegetation. In addition to pickup by the city, residents can take debris to one of the city’s five brush sites, which offer extended hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Ongoing removal of that debris by the city through special collection is necessary for all of the following reasons: to eliminate immediate threats to life, public health and safety; to eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property; and to promote post-disaster economic recovery,” the order continues.

While the city remains in a state of emergency, it reopened the St. Pete Pier, the Municipal Marina, the Albert Whitted Airport and The Coliseum last Friday. All city-run parks and rec facilities will reopen Monday with normal programming and operating hours.

Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified and made landfall on Florida’s Southwest coast as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, pummeling areas just south of Tampa Bay.

Damaging winds and rain lashed the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota region at “highest risk” of a devastating storm surge. But the storm continued to impact Central Florida overnight, maintaining hurricane strength most of the way as it crossed the state.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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