SOUTH COUNTY –– For the past three hurricane seasons, residents of South County and in particular the city of Venice, have been bereft of a local hurricane shelter.
Indeed, during Hurricane Irma in 2017, almost 100 city residents sheltered at the Venice Community Center which the county declined to open due to the possibility of flooding at the low-lying facility.
Other residents took shelter at Taylor Ranch Elementary on the outskirts of Venice, which is now projected to be hardened this year and ready to serve as a shelter for the South County area.
In an email Monday to Sarasota County commissioners, Emergency Services Rich Collins wrote that completion of the project by the school district is expected by late August or early September, just as the peak of the 2020 hurricane season is reached.
Hurricane forecasters have issued predictions that 2020 will remain an above-average season for Atlantic hurricanes.
“We will continue to work with the School District and will bring the Hurricane Evacuation Center on-line as soon as construction is complete,” Collins wrote.
Last year, the school district received a $1,057,700 grant from the Florida Division of Emergency Management to make Taylor Ranch Elementary a shelter for South County. The school will be the county’s 12th shelter for emergency needs.