Dorian Already Impacted Manatee-Sarasota

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY SEP 2, 2019

Government leaders in Manatee and Sarasota counties over the weekend de-escalated emergency response teams as Hurricane Dorian’s storm path turned northward. But there remain consequences from the storm even if it no longer seems a physical threat for Southwest Florida.

"Thankfully, Hurricane Dorian tracked eastward again and Manatee County is no longer in the projected path of the storm,” said Manatee Emergency Chief Steve Litschauer on Saturday evening. “We are putting everything on hold until the storm goes by us.”

But that doesn’t mean officials won’t keep alert.

Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said based on the storm trajectory, no shelters opened in Sarasota on Sunday as planned. "It appears we were fortunate and the potentially dangerous impacts from Dorian will thankfully miss our region," Barwin said. "I remain hopeful for a near normal, perhaps a bit soggy-maybe windy, Labor Day barbecue."  

But that could change if the storm today fails to turn north, as models project. And depending on what impacts come on the east coast from the storm, it's still possible emergency personnel in Southwest Florida will need to assist in other areas.

And Sarasota paid a certain economic price in room cancellations on a holiday weekend. The 2019 Tampa Bay Labor Day Tournament, a major soccer event at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch was cancelled Friday. Attendees had booked rooms in hotels up and down Interstate-75 for the event, but the storm disrupted travel plans significantly.

Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, said hospitality leaders were concerned about the impact of losing the event. But the tourism agency already has plans to draw visitors through the fall to Sarasota County.

"Dorian does not figure into our plans for season if the current path holds," Haley said. "We are focused on restarting our Sarasota Big Pass promotion as soon as the storm clears to give us a pre-season boost."

It’s important to note, of course, that the models have shown wildly changing storm paths for Dorian, and first responders are not yet turning their attention away from the hurricane.

"It's been an unpredictable storm and it could take a left turn just like it took a right turn,” Litschauer said, “so our residents should continue to monitor the forecast by watching reliable news sources and following the County's social media accounts."

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