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News Story
Updated: 09/13/2017 08:30:01AM

State of emergency extended

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By GARY PINNELL

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SEBRING — A state of emergency was extended Tuesday for another seven days, Highlands County commissioners decided in an emergency meeting. They issued the initial proclamation a week ago, as did Sebring City Council.

Public schools will remain closed this week, Commissioner Don Elwell said. County offices also will remain closed until power is restored.

“As soon as we have power, we’ll be open the next day,” Clerk of Courts Bob Germaine said.

Household garbage will be picked up starting Wednesday morning, County Administrator June Fisher said.

“That’s blue and green cans only,” Elwell said. “Not debris. Debris will be picked up by our contractor.”

No convenience stores were open Tuesday, Canaday said. “There’s a state law that says they have to have a generator connection, but they don’t have to have generators.”

Many stores were out of diesel and gasoline before the storm, and fuel trucks have not resupplied the stores, Elwell said.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ordered fuel trucks to speed up deliveries, and tasked 20 Highway Patrol troopers as escorts. Fuel ships were waiting at the Port of Tampa, National Public Radio reported.

Local vehicles aren’t following state law, Elwell said. When traffic signals are out, drivers should treat intersections as a 4-way stop. Instead, a few drivers are blasting through at 60 mph.

One careful driver stopped in Avon Park, another driver behind the first didn’t, and slammed into the rear of the first vehicle, Elwell said.

Highlands County will have no trouble meeting the threshold of hurricane damage for federal help, Elwell said. Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged.

Shelters were emptying on Monday, Canaday said. The special needs shelter on George Boulevard remained open Tuesday, along with the Highlands News-Sun Center shelter at the fairgrounds.

Irma, Canaday said, “did everything the Hurricane Storm Center said it wasn’t going to do.”

“That’s why we had the damage we did,” Canaday said. The eye passed through Arcadia and Wauchula, which meant winds in Highlands County exceeded 115 mph. Stormwater washed out at least 20 roads.


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