SEMINOLE - Marilyn Mevers had no idea that her Facebook post would go viral. For days, she watched as linemen from around the country worked long hours to restore power to Seminole and surrounding areas following Hurricane Irma’s hit to the region.
So she decided she wanted to do something for them in return.
CLEARWATER - One of the most important parts of the recovery phase from Hurricane Irma is restoration of power. Monday morning, Duke Energy Florida reported that power had been restored to all its customers in Pinellas County.
It was a long time coming for many. Duke had estimated that power would be restored in Pinellas by midnight Friday, but that estimate didn’t prove true with nearly 60,000 still without power at 9 p.m., when the last power restoration update of the day was posted online.
LARGO - The Largo Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a suspect wanted in connection with the Sept. 20 robbery of Wells Fargo Bank, 5250 East Bay Drive in Largo.
According to police, the suspect, identified as 35-year-old Erik Michael Durkin, entered the bank and demanded money from a teller. He was given an undisclosed amount of cash and then fled the area in a taxi, which dropped off a short distance away.
LARGO - First responders and city staff are accustomed to going out of their way to help residents in need. During Hurricane Irma, for example, employees stepped away from their traditional day-to-day roles to meet the needs of the public, and, in some cases, left their families and homes with the goal of making Largo prepared and safe.
Local businesses worked to repay that favor before, during and after the storm, and city officials are grateful.
Whether it was providing shelter, fuel, water or food, Largo Fire Rescue Chief Shelby Willis said businesses - both big and small - answered the call.
CLEARWATER - In recent years, tropical weather has not been kind to Pinellas County’s beaches. But it seems Hurricane Irma was the exception with no major damage reported thus far.
The county’s Coastal Management staff inspected about 30 beach locations Wednesday, Sept. 13, between Sand Key Park in Clearwater and Pass-a-Grille Beach in St. Pete Beach, said Andy Squires, section manager for Coastal Resources.
“From our visual observations, overall it appeared the upper beach and dune systems remained intact with very little erosion evident,” he said.
PINELLAS PARK - While many Pinellas County residents attempted to stay out of Hurricane Irma’s reach by evacuating the area or prepping their homes and remaining indoors, Bottles Pub’s staff opened the bar during the Sept. 10 storm for those with nowhere else to go.
A week before Irma was projected to hit, owner Debi Klenk decided that Bottles, 5619 Park Blvd. N., would stay open on Sunday as a refuge for those who lost power or were simply looking for something to do, she said.
CLEARWATER - “We dodged a bullet,” said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, three days following the landfall of Hurricane Irma, a massive storm that arrived Sunday in Florida as a Category 4 and settled into Tampa Bay as a Category 1 early Monday morning.
And there’s no doubt about that. Irma, which was predicted on Sunday to potentially hit the area as a Category 3 hurricane, could have left a far more damaging mark on the area. As it is, millions - including a majority of Clearwater residents - have been left without power, with gas in high demand and frustrations bubbling over.
BELLEAIR BEACH - This mostly residential community’s current signage consists of two small monument signs at the city entryways, 1960s era signage at three small motels and a sign with changeable letters fronting City Hall.
A larger electronic message board is being proposed, which city officials say is similar to one at the City of Seminole recreation center. The City Council gave an approval at its Sept. 6 meeting to advertise for bids for a digital monument sign in Crossman Park, at the corner of Gulf Boulevard and the Belleair Beach Causeway.
LARGO - Times are tough if you’re a clown these days. The remake of the Stephen King horror thriller “It” hits theaters Sept. 8, sightings of lurkers dressed up in creepy clown costumes continue to make headlines and the final curtain fell recently on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
But times are even tougher for some patients at Largo Medical Center, which is why a dedicated group of about 30 volunteers don the makeup, gather some props and provide a bit of levity to help the ill forget, if only for a few moments, that they’re in a hospital bed.
If you’ve not yet taken time to prepare, now would likely be a good time, as hurricane season enters what is historically the busiest time of the season. And forecasters are saying activity could be more than the pre-season outlook predicted.
NOAA’s climate experts gave odds of 45 percent that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season would have above average activity in the May pre-season outlook. Those experts have since updated those odds to 60 percent.
NOAA updated its seasonal forecast Aug. 9. Forecasters increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. They say the season could be the most active since 2010. Nineteen named storms formed that year and 12 strengthened into hurricanes.
LARGO - Pinellas County’s Emergency Operations Center kicked off the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season June 1 by hosting a media day to unveil new preparedness tools and urge residents to check to see if their evacuation zones have changed.
One big announcement was the launch of a new tool, the “Ready Pinellas” mobile app. Sally Bishop, Emergency Management director, described the new technology as a “plan in your pocket.”
Ready Pinellas connects to Alert Pinellas, the National Hurricane Center, social media and more. It provides information needed to assess risks, check evacuation levels and storm surge. Residents and visitors can enter information to create a personal emergency plan. The app also has checklists and up-to-date evacuation information based on your location.
TALLAHASSEE - As the 2017 hurricane season begins, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles urges every citizen to be prepared for potential emergencies by making a disaster preparedness plan that includes registering or updating their Emergency Contact Information.
Residents with a valid driver license or identification card may enter up to two emergency contacts into the department’s secure ECI database. ECI can only be accessed by law enforcement and only during emergencies such as a hurricane or crash.
Citizens can register or update their ECI free of charge on the DHSMV website and in local driver license and tax collector offices to ensure their designated family or friends will be contacted in the event of an emergency.