Month: September 2017

Polk County’s Answer to Health and Safety Concerns from Residents




BARTOW, Fla. (Sept. 24, 2017) –  In response to last week’s 6,022 resident calls concerning garbage, routine yard trash, bulk and recyclables still sitting at the curb, Polk County’s Waste & Recycling office officials met with Advanced Disposal and FCC Environmental  management teams. The group met to discuss the health concerns and safety issues of residents, and the immediate collection of these materials.

Advanced Disposal and FCC Environmental will be functioning in an emergency capacity assisting residents with the removal of garbage, routine yard waste, bulk and recyclables. Residents must bag or containerize routine yard waste for collection until further notice.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 25, the two haulers will focus their efforts on the areas most reported as affected by non-collections:

  • South Lakeland
  • Davenport
  • Poinciana
  • Haines City
  • Lake Wales

“It is no longer about the non-performance of our current hauler, it is about the health and well-being of our County residents and their communities,” said Deputy County Manager, Bill Beasley

At the conclusion of the meeting, representatives from each hauler commented:

“Advanced Disposal was contacted by Polk County to assist in collecting waste and recycling collection services before the initial start of the contract. We are delighted to start early and take care of the customers in need of services,” said Gary Brown, General Manager Advanced Disposal

“FCC Environmental is pleased to partner with Polk County to help its residents through this difficult time and we look forward to the future.” Rick Chancey, FCC Environmental Contract Manager

Gov. Scott Announces License-Free Freshwater and Saltwater Fishing for Florida Utility Workers


MARATHON, Fla. – Sept 22nd, Governor Rick Scott announced that he has expanded the license-free freshwater and saltwater fishing offer made to Florida’s law enforcement and first responders to include utility workers. At the Governor’s direction, utility workers will now be able to enjoy license-free freshwater and saltwater fishing beginning today through June 30, 2018. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will accept official utility workers’ identification in lieu of a Florida fishing license during this period. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is also offering free day-passes to Florida State Parks that can be used on an unlimited basis until October 2018 for all law enforcement officers, first responders and utility workers.

Governor Scott said, “Florida’s utility workers have worked around the clock to turn the lights back on in communities throughout our state and we are thankful for their relentless commitment and hard work. Since Hurricane Irma, utility workers have restored power to more than 6.7 million homes and businesses, helping Floridians get back on their feet and recover from this devastating storm. I am proud today to offer this license-free fishing opportunity to our utility workers as a thank you for their great work and commitment to getting Florida’s power back on.”

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley said, “Florida’s utility workers have worked day and night to bring power back to our communities and we are proud to offer them the opportunity to enjoy Florida’s world class freshwater and saltwater fishing license-free.”


Operation Blue Roof Comes to Polk


Bartow, Fla. (Sept. 19, 2017) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be in Bartow starting Wednesday to provide no-cost temporary repairs for roofs damaged by Hurricane Irma.

Representatives from the Corps will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting tomorrow at the Bartow Municipal Airport, 5253 Airport Blvd. in Bartow.

Only primary residences with standard shingled roofs are eligible for the program. Metal roofs and mobile homes will be repaired as practical on a case-by-case basis. However, roofs with 50 percent or more structural damage are not eligible.

To get assistance, you must sign a form to allow Corps staff and contractors to access your property. Those forms can be filled out at the Bartow Airport location.

The program is free and there is never a charge for services. Also, please note the Corps staff does not call residents to sign up.

For more information, call 888-ROOF-BLU (888-766-3258), or go to Applicants who use 711 or video relay service can call 800-621-3362. Those who are deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech disability and use TTY can call 800-462-7585.

Polk Mandatory evacuation of manufactured homes and flood-prone areas


Bartow, Fla. (September 9, 2017) —  Polk County public shelters are now open. Residents requiring assistance for transportation to special needs shelters have begun moving into their shelters. Polk County’s Emergency Management division says now is the time to decide whether you should move to a shelter, or shelter in place.

Polk County residents who live in manufactured and mobile homes, or in areas of the county that historically are prone to flooding following heavy rains, should evacuate and take advantage of open shelters during Hurricane Irma. This mandatory evacuation includes people who live in manufactured and mobile homes, and areas of the county that are most vulnerable including:

  • Itchepackesassa Creek, bordered by Deeson Road, the County Line, Ariana Street and Chestnut Street;
  • Gator Creek, in extreme northwest Polk bordered by the County Line on the north and west, Marcum Road on the south and Highway 33 on the east;
  • Lake Lowery’s northwest side of the lake;
  • Saddlebag Lake, and
  • River Ranch.

You should only decide to shelter in place if you live in a secure structure that is not a mobile or manufactured home. When sheltering in place, you should:

  • Bring your pets indoors
  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, garden decorations and anything else that could become a flying projectile
  • Be sure you and your family have a safe room in which to ride out the storm. This should be a room that is in the interior part of your home with no windows.
  • Get your survival kit out and ready. Be sure to pull out your weather radio so you can keep up with current weather conditions.

City of Fort Meade Activates Storm Plan ahead of Irma

September 5, 2017 – In anticipation of potential impacts from Hurricane Irma, The City of Fort Meade has activated its emergency operations plan and urges its customers to get prepared.

Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread power outages and catastrophic property damages. In addition, restoration may be hampered by flooding, downed trees or other obstacles. The City of Fort Meadecrews are prepared to work long hours after the storm passes, restoring service to customers as quickly and as safely as possible.

Take action now! Create a hurricane survival kit that includes first aid supplies, a battery powered radio, tarps, batteries, and flashlights. Make sure to have a few days’ supply of any needed prescription medicine, baby food and diapers, pet food, canned food and drinking water (at least one gallon per person, per day). Have extra cash on hand and make sure you have a full tank of gas in your car and proper fuel on hand for a gas grill and/or generator.

The City of Fort Meade will open non-medical temporary shelters for residents at the Fort Meade City Mobile Home Park Activity Center 1046 SE 2nd Street and the Fort Meade Community Center 10 SW 3rd Street.

Some of the local churches will be serving as shelters as well and will assist in preparation before and after the storm. Please check with the Pastors or members of the congregation for more information.

First Baptist Church Flyer

To determine a hurricane evacuation route, visit During an emergency please monitor Polk County Government Television, other local television and radio stations for open shelter information. Have a 72-hour survival kit ready to take with you. Citizens Info Line 1-866-661-0228.

If you are a customer that is medically dependent on electricity for oxygen or other equipment, please make sure you have a backup generator in place or additional power backup. Utilities typically cannot respond to customers with special needs during or immediately after a storm. Have an evacuation plan and know special needs shelter locations. If you or someone you know has special electrical medical equipment needs, notify the electric utility prior to the storm’s arrival.

A special needs shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting. Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should pre-register with Polk County Emergency Management Special Needs Program at (863) 298-7027.

Customers will experience power outages as the CIty of Fort Meade has decided to shut down the substation  before the severe weather begins to minimize damage for a faster recovery. After the severe weather passes, The City of Fort Meade crews will begin restoring power as quickly as possible. Crews will begin restoring power by repairing power plants, transmission lines, substations and main distribution lines. Once the main power lines are repaired, crews turn their attention to individual customer outages.

If you use a portable generator: DON’T run a generator in the house, DON’T run a generator in the garage, and DON’T plug a generator directly into a house’s main electrical system. The first two could lead to suffocation and the third could send an electrical charge back to the power grid, which would create an electrocution hazard for utility workers. DO set up generators outside in a well-ventilated area, and DO plug individual appliances directly into the generator.

For More Information, visit: http:

Following the storm, outage information can be obtained at

Emergency Contacts:

Police or Fire Emergency 911
Fort Meade City Hall (863) 285-1100
Polk County Sheriff’s Office (863) 285-1100 ext. 230
Polk County EOC (863) 519-7478
Polk County Drainage (863) 535-2200
Florida Public Utilities Emergency Response (Gas) (800) 427-7712

Sandbags are available at the City of Fort Meade Code Enforcement/Building Department (across from the Post Office)

Here are a few websites to keep you updated:

NOAA – Plan for a Hurricane 

Polk County EOC


Hurricane Tips: The City of Fort Meade

  1. Following a power outage,  unplug all of your large appliances and electronics to prevent power surges when electricity is restored, which can often damage equipment and      create fire hazards.
  2. Remember the “three dont’s” when using generators: Don’t run a generator in the house;   Don’t run a generator in the garage; and Don’t plug the generator directly into your home’s main electrical system. The first two can lead to asphyxiation, and the third can send an electrical charge back into the  power grid, posing an electrocution hazard to utility workers.
  3. If your home is flooded, turn off your electrical power until a professional inspects it      thoroughly.
  4. If you smell gas, evacuate immediately and contact your gas company’s emergency number. (800)427-7712
  5. Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification check points before being allowed access to your home or neighborhood.
  6. After the storm, check to see if your home’s weatherhead is damaged – it is located above the electric meter. Utility workers cannot reconnect service if this piece of  equipment (which is the homeowner’s responsibility) is damaged. If your weatherhead needs repair, please contact a licensed electrician.
  7. Utilities often cannot respond to customers with special needs during or immediately after a storm. When warned of an incoming storm, make an early decision to evacuate people with special needs. Know the location of special needs shelters in case you are unable to evacuate. If you or someone in your family has special electrical medical equipment needs, notify your electric utility prior to a storm’s arrival.
  8. Visit to determine your  hurricane evacuation route.
  9. Capture water in your water  heater by turning off power to the unit and closing the water valves. If you lose water pressure, you will have about 40 gallons of fresh water      stored in the tank. Store additional water in your bathtub and fill the washing machine with water. This water supply can be used for cleaning or to operate your toilet.
  10. Clear your patio and yard of lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, and other debris that could blow      around in high winds and cause damage or injury.
  11. Prior to the storm, identify  the places around your home where gas, water and electricity can be shut  off. In an emergency, you’ll want to be able to turn them off quickly.
  12. Create a hurricane survival kit that includes: first aid supplies; water; batteries; flashlights; battery  powered radio; manual can opener; prescriptions; baby food and diapers; pet food; canned foods; cash; tarps; rope; bleach; trash bags; charcoal or      gas grill with plenty of fuel; wooden kitchen matches; and a portable cooler. Don’t forget a hardwired phone. Cordless phones will not work during a power outage.

Hurricane Resources
Preparing for a disaster guidebook
After a disaster guidebook

Hurricane FAQ

Here are some questions commonly asked by media and customers when a hurricane is threatening our service area.

Q: What is Fort Meade doing to prepare for this Hurricane?
City of Fort Meade staff members meet regularly to assess the situation and update our strategies and plans.  Of course, repair personnel will be making repairs to the system.  However, many office workers will be out in the field supporting those repair crews.  They also may serve as guides to out-of-town repair crews, using chain saws to remove debris from Fort Meade facilities, or serving meals to restoration crews.

When a hurricane threatens Fort Meade, we begin notifying those utilities and companies with which we have mutual aid agreements and contracts so they will be ready should we need them.  Bartow has agreements and contracts with other electric utilities, food vending companies, fuel suppliers, tree-cutting services and other vendors to assist and support the restoration effort.

Q: What should residents be doing to prepare?
The standard recommendations are always prudent:

  • get enough bottled water for several days (rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day)
  • make sure you have a battery-powered radio and flashlights and plenty of batteries (NOT candles)
  • board up windows (masking tape is not recommended)
  • secure lawn furniture, etc.

Here are a few ideas you may not have thought of

  • Capture water in your water heater by turning off power to the unit, and then close the water valves.  This way if you lose water pressure, you will have about 40 gallons of fresh water stored in the tank.
  • Store additional water in your bathtub, and fill the washing machine with water, too.  This water supply can be used later for cleaning or to operate your toilet
  • Make sure you have a can opener that doesn’t need electricity.
  • Get some Fix-a-Flat tire  sealant to quickly repair and inflate tires damaged by debris after the storm.
  • Make sure you have a regular, corded phone.  Cordless phones will not work when the power is off.  Fully charge cell phones.

Q: What should people who rely on electricity for medical equipment be doing?
Those who rely on electricity to operate necessary medical equipment should make arrangements now to ensure their safety in the event of a loss of power.   People with “special needs” should contact the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Bartow (863) 519-7478.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are thinking of buying a generator?
The City of Fort Meade recommends you do not use a generator unless you know how to use one safely.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, some homeowners connected generators to the wiring inside their homes.  Electricity from a generator flowed backward through the transformer causing the voltage to increase to thousands of volts and electrocuted unsuspecting line-repair personnel.  With that important note made, we would suggest people think about what they hope to gain with a generator.  For example, if you think the power will be out for one day, is that enough to justify purchasing a generator that costs several hundred dollars?  If you expect power will be out for weeks, how will you obtain fuel to keep the generator running?  Transporting and storing large volumes of fuel can be dangerous.  If you do purchase a generator, use it outside your home in a well-ventilated area.  Fumes from a running generator can be deadly. Whatever you do, think about the purchase and have a good plan that includes safety.

Q: Should people who evacuate do anything special to help minimize damage to the electric and plumbing systems in their homes?
If you plan to evacuate, turn off the circuit breakers for the water heater.  Also, consider turning off power to your home at the main electrical panel, and turning off water at the home’s main service valve.

Q: During Hurricane Irma, does Fort Meade plan to keep the power on?
A: With the intensity and the path of Hurricane Irma, 
the City of Fort Meade has decided to shut down the substation when the winds reach 35-40 mph. The power will remain out during the storm.  This is being done to minimize damage to transformers and other equipment for a faster recovery time. As soon as it is safe we will restore the substation as quickly as possible.

The City of Fort Meade’s water and sewer plants have back-up generators to help keep those services operating throughout a storm.  However, severe system damage could occur causing service disruptions.  Crews will make those repairs as quickly as possible.

Q: What does Fort Meade do immediately after a hurricane passes?
City of Fort Meade staff will begin a field assessment of the damage.  This effort could take several days, depending on the level of damage the system sustains.  Customers should keep in mind that stopping the staff to ask questions will slow down this assessment and can also slow down the overall restoration effort.  After the assessment is complete, the City will have a better idea of how long it will take to restore service to customers.  Also during this time, the City will be communicating updates through local media outlets about outages, where crews are working and the progress being made.

If your power is on, the City of Fort Meade encourages you to keep your front porch/flood light on – day and night – which will help our assessment teams further focus their attention on homes and facilities where power needs to be restored.

Q: What about damage on my property?
When the storm has safely cleared, we encourage you to assess your own damage, too.  Once City crews have cleared away any electric lines, the homeowner is responsible for tree removal on the homeowner’s property.  The City will clear from the lines only that section of a tree or limb that prevents a crew from repairing the City wires.  All clean up from a broken or fallen tree and/or limb is the responsibility of the property owner.  The City will not remove limbs or trees from wires that are NOT the City’s, which includes Phone and Cable TV wires.  The City will NOT remove any limb or any part of a tree that is on a structure or building.

Likewise, any damage to the weatherhead (the device where the electric line attaches to the home) must be repaired by a licensed electrician before the City can safely reconnect your power.

Q: What about trees that block my driveway or the roadway.
The City of Fort Meade’s Department of Public Works is responsible for removing trees, limbs and other debris from the roadways.  To report this, contact City Hall at (863) 285-1100

Q: How do you decide who gets power first?
Our restoration plan focuses on returning power to the facilities that deliver power to the largest number of affected customers first.  First, we repair damage to the Fort Meade substation that distributes power and the lines that connect our substations.  Then, we focus on restoring power to the customers who provide essential services to your community, such as police and fire stations.  Next, we repair damage that will return power to the greatest number of customers in the least amount of time.  Once major repairs have been made, we begin working to restore individuals and small groups of customers.  But with the widespread damage and sheer volume of affected facilities, it takes essentially the same level of effort to fix the facility that provides power to thousands as it does to one that delivers power to only a few.

Q: Does Fort Meade restore power to one side of town before another?
 No.  The City of Fort Meade generally restores power in the sequence that will result in returning service to the greatest number of customers as soon as possible.

Q: If people lose power or water service, what should they do?
Each situation is unique.  Stay tuned to your radio for instructions about whether or when to call.  If the damage to the electric system is extensive, there may be no need for you to call in the first few days.  If you have lost water service, but not power, turn off the circuit breaker for the water heater to prevent damage to the heating elements from overheating.

Q: If there is widespread destruction of the electric system, how will Fort Meade re-build the system quickly?
In the case of a major outage, it will days and may be even weeks before all power is restored.  However, Fort Meade has mutual aid agreements in place with other electric utilities around the southeast.  Fort Meade also has contacts with several private companies that perform utility construction and tree clearing.  These extra crews would provide assistance to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

Q: During or after a hurricane, should I call the City of Fort Meade to tell the utility I don’t have power?
Not immediately. The City Fort Meade will know the major
circuits are out and begin repairing them first.  Once the circuits are restored, the City will ask you – through the local media – to begin calling in with your individual outage information.

Q: If a Boil Water notice is issued, but power is out, how do people make sure their water is safe?
If you cannot boil water, use bleach to purify water for drinking.  Use regular chlorine bleach without added fragrances.  Follow the purification directions on the label. If none are given, use two drops of bleach per quart of water, or 8 drops per gallon of water.  Let the water stand for 30 minutes.  Also, Clorox says you can make a good sanitizing solution to wash and disinfect dishes, countertops, etc. by mixing one teaspoon of bleach in one gallon of water.  Continue to use bottled or disinfected water for drinking and cooking until Bartow’s water supply has been declared safe.  Listen to local news sources for regular updates.

Q: What does Fort Meade tell people about downed electric lines?
Please call 911 immediately to report a downed electric line.  STAY AWAY from all downed power lines because they may be energized.  If you get close enough to an energized power line you can be electrocuted – even without actually touching the wire.

Q: Is food left in refrigerators safe to eat after the power has been out?
According to the Red Cross, food can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two days without electricity, and even longer in the freezer.  However, they also recommend using the food in the refrigerator first as the frozen food will be safe longer.  Freezing and storing water in clean containers to leave in the refrigerator before the storm hits can also help your food stay cool.  It’s best to have plenty of non-perishable food on hand to get you through post-hurricane recovery.  Of course, don’t open the refrigerator/freezer door any more than necessary.

Q: For people whose homes were flooded, is there anything they should do before turning their power back on at their breaker box?
 Yes.  Consult a private electrician to determine if it is safe to restore power to your home.  If rising water approached your home, but just missed coming inside, you may need to have an air conditioning contractor check your heating and cooling system.  The outdoor unit of the air conditioner typically sits on the ground, lower than the home, so rising water may have gotten into the electrical connections and wiring of the compressor unit control panel.

Q: People have called local news stations complaining that their neighbor (next door?  next street?) got power back on before they did.  Why is that happening? Why am I the only one in my neighborhood without lights?
A: It 
could be that you and your neighbor do not share the same power line (more specifically, the same circuit).  The power line feeding electricity to your home may be damaged, while the one to your neighbor’s house is not.  It also could be that your individual connection requires repair.  It may also be possible that your home needs internal electrical repairs before you can receive service.

Q: Will Fort Meade reimburse customers for the cost of food lost to spoilage?
No.  Hurricanes are considered an act of nature and therefore the City is not responsible for spoilage.  The City of Fort Meade encourages customers to buy canned goods, not perishable items, and keep food stored in freezers to a minimum during hurricane season.

Q: What if I or someone in my home relies on medical equipment powered by electricity?  Will Fort Meade restore my power first?
No.  The City of Fort Meade will focus first on public health and safety facilities (police/fire stations, schools, etc.) then begin restoring power to major circuits before responding to individual outages.  Customers facing this type of situation need to contact the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in their county for assistance.  The Bartow EOC telephone number is (863) 401-2234.

Q: If I see a sewer overflow, what should I do?
Certainly, stay away from the waste and contact Fort Meade City Hall at (863) 285-1100 to report it. Fort Meade has portable, gas-powered generators that it uses to keep pump stations working in the event of a major power outage and prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs).


Gov. Scott Issues Updates on Hurricane Irma Preparedness


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott received a full update on Hurricane Irma from the State Emergency Operations Center. Governor Scott has been in constant communication with state and local emergency management officials, law enforcement, school superintendents and county leaders who are also working to ensure the state is prepared to respond to any potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. Yesterday, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 17-235 declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida. Governor Scott today requested that President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency for the State of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma to provide important preparation resources and assistance from the federal government. The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to level one, which is a full-scale, 24-hours-a-day activation.



  • Governor Scott activated 100 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to support with planning, logistics and operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These 100 members will be stationed in across the state.
  • At the direction of Governor Scott, all 7,000 National Guard members will be reporting for duty Friday morning. Additional guard members will be activated this week as needed.
  • In addition, 13 helicopters and more than 1,000 tactical high wheeled trucks are on standby.
  • Florida has identified air assets and resources from the North Carolina National Guard and is also coordinating with nearby states to assist with evacuations from the Florida Keys.
  • The Florida National Guard is coordinating with the National Guard Bureau to identify approximately 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters, and Aero-Evacuation crews that are standing by for Hurricane Irma support, if needed.


  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is preparing search and rescue teams for potential deployment. All teams that were deployed to Texas have since returned or are in the process of returning.
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and other partnering agencies are identifying resources for deployment if necessary to respond to the storm.
  • The division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is monitoring road and traffic conditions to ensure the roadways are clear and working with the Division of Emergency Management to ensure consistent messaging is provided statewide.
  • The division of Motorist Services has its Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) mobiles on standby and will deploy them to impacted areas as needed.


  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is holding teleconferences with districts and agency partners such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Water Management Districts, and Federal Highway Administration to ensure all infrastructure needs are met.
  • FDOT will continue to reach out to county emergency operations centers directly to coordinate any necessary response actions, including activating traffic counters, providing local evacuation support and providing maintenance of traffic and other assistance.
  • The state is monitoring conditions at all airports and seaports. As of now, there are no closed airports or seaports.
  • Governor Scott has rescinded all weight and driver restrictions for highways so water, food, fuel and emergency supplies can be quickly brought to Florida.


  • While the state is working as quickly as possible to fill grocery store shelves with water and other emergency resources, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.
  • The state is staging mass care supplies such as meals, shelter support trailers and portable water at the State Logistic Resource Center in Orlando for deployments as needed.
  • The state is also establishing local points of contact with mass care organizations and volunteer agencies, including working with the American Red Cross to coordinate sheltering and feeding operations. The American Red Cross has also established a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO) in Orlando.
  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is running projection models for human-services’ needs (such as food and sheltering) based on a major hurricane impacting the state.


  • The Florida Department of Education is in contact with school districts, state colleges and universities for updates before, during and after emergency events.
  • At this time, all school districts and colleges are monitoring Irma and her path.
  • Districts are preparing in the case that their facilities are needed for shelters. Colleges are making emergency preparations on their campuses and working with students who may need assistance with relocation.


  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) created an event in the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FLVBEOC) for Hurricane Irma and are currently updating with up-to-date storm information, situation reports and resources for the business community. FLVBEOC is available at
  • We have activated the Private Sector Hotline at 850-815-4925. The hotline is available for business inquiries about the storm, preparedness information and post-impact information.

ELECTRIC & NATURAL GAS UTILITIES (Public Service Commission)

  • Utilities have been put on notice to start reporting outage and restoral information when notified to begin.
  • Utilities are contacting their mutual aid partners to determine availability if external resources are needed to restore services.
  • Monitoring the power grid for sufficient power in the state and the natural gas infrastructure for any damages that can cause a loss of service to power plants.
  • The state is also requesting utilities to identify any staging areas needed outside of Florida and requesting the status of all nuclear facilities in the event a shutdown is necessary.


  • The Department of Financial Services and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has activated its internal Incident Management Team (IMT) for coordination of activities related to Hurricane Irma and is preparing to respond to deployments as needed, and prepared to order property insurers to submit claims information from Hurricane Irma.
  • Additionally, in response to the Governor’s Office Executive Order, OIR has notified all entities writing health insurance in the state of their statutory obligation to allow for early prescription refills. OIR is also coordinating with the Agency for Healthcare Administration and Department of Health.
  • The Chief Financial Officer DFS is encouraging all Floridians to keep all insurance and banking information in one, easily-accessible place, consumers can download a copy of the Department’s free Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit. The Toolkit serves as a one-stop shop for all finance, emergency and insurance contact information. Download and complete the toolkit today.
  • OIR has updated its “Hurricane Season Resources” webpage, which contains links to information provided by the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program, and contact information for Florida’s property insurers.


  • The state is contacting fuel industry partners (e.g., Florida Petroleum Council, Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association); there are no reported supply, distribution or retail fuel shortages or issues.
  • The state is monitoring fuel assistance requests and has contacted emergency fuel and equipment providers for status of emergency fuel supply and equipment.
  • While the state is working as quickly as possible to bring fuel to communities, as Floridians prepare, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.


  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is coordinating with hospitals and healthcare facilities across Florida on potential evacuation needs.
  • DOH is preparing to set up and coordinate staffing for special needs shelters.


  • The state has contacted telecommunications partners to activate protective action plans and procedures for Central Offices, tower sites, mobile response units and any other critical infrastructure.
  • Telecommunications Partners are monitoring fuel levels for generators and back-up power supply.
  • The state is drafting 24-hour staffing schedules and all Telecommunications remain on standby to respond if required.
  • At this point, no out of ordinary reports of any major outages.


  • The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff is currently conducting baseline shoreline assessments to help evaluate beach impacts.
  • DEP is reaching out to drinking and wastewater facilities to help ensure preparation steps are being taken.
  • All state parks remain open at this time, but no new camping reservations will be accepted for the next 10 days.
  • The South Florida Water Management District has begun lowering water levels in canals and moving as much water as possible to tide and south through flood control structures throughout its flood control system in preparation for the storm.
  • Routine inspections of the Herbert Hoover Dike are taking place and additional inspections will begin once the lake approaches 17 feet. The lake level is currently at 13.67 feet.


  • The State Emergency Operations Center Media Line: 850-921-0217.
  • Follow @FLSert or @FLGovScott on Twitter for live updates on Hurricane Irma.
  • Visit to find information on shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes.


Gov. Scott Activates 100 Florida National Guard Members to Assist with Hurricane Irma Preparedness


NAPLES, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott activated 100 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to support with planning, logistics and operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These 100 members will be stationed across the state, and will advise the Governor on available and needed resources to ensure communities are fully prepared for the storm. In addition, at the direction of Governor Scott, all 7,000 National Guard members will be reporting for duty Friday morning. Yesterday, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 17-235, which declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida in response to Hurricane Irma and allowed for the immediate activation of National Guard members as preparedness actions continue.
Governor Scott said, “Today I am activating 100 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to immediately begin assisting with ongoing Hurricane Irma preparation. Per my direction, they will be stationed throughout the state. I have also directed all 7,000 guard members to report for duty this Friday, however, if resources are needed before then, I stand ready to activate as many guard members needed to support our aggressive preparedness actions. With Hurricane Irma now a category 5 storm, we must do all we can to prepare our families and communities for any potential impact from this major weather event. We do not know the exact path of this storm, but weather can change in an instant and while we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst.”

Gov. Scott Declares State of Emergency to Prepare Florida for Hurricane Irma


NAPLES, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 17-235 declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida in response to Hurricane Irma – a major Category 3 storm approaching Florida. By declaring a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, Governor Scott is ensuring that local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm and are not hindered, delayed or prevented from taking all necessary actions to keep communities safe.

Governor Scott said, “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridians. Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm. In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared. This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.

“In Florida, we know that the best way to protect our families in severe weather is to have a plan. I urge all Floridians to remain vigilant and stay alert to local weather and news and visit today as we all prepare for Hurricane Irma. We will keep monitoring and issuing updates on Hurricane Irma as it approaches Florida.”


Polk County Public Shelters

 Primary Shelters        Special Needs Shelters        Pet-Friendly Shelters 

Map Shelter City Type
Horizons Elementary School Davenport Primary Shelter
Pinewood Elementary School Eagle Lake Primary Shelter
Alta Vista Elementary School Haines City Pet-Friendly Shelter
Boone Middle School Haines City Primary Shelter
Southwest Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Tenoroc Senior High School Lakeland Primary Shelter
R. Bruce Wagner Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Spook Hill Elementary School Lake Wales Primary Shelter
Karen M. Siegel Academy Lake Alfred Primary Shelter
Auburndale High School Auburndale Primary Shelter
Loughman Oaks Elementary School Davenport Primary Shelter
Haines City High School Haines City Primary Shelter
Sandhill Elementary School Haines City Primary Shelter
Combee Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
George Jenkins High School Freshman Academy Lakeland Primary Shelter
Highlands Grove Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Kathleen Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Lake Gibson High School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Lakeland Adult Daycare Center Lakeland Special Needs Shelter
Lakeland Highlands Middle School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Philip O’Brien Elementary School (formerly Lime Street Elementary) Lakeland Pet-Friendly Shelter
Lincoln Avenue Academy Lakeland Primary Shelter
McKeel Academy Lakeland Primary Shelter
Dr. N.E. Roberts Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Rochelle School of the Arts Lakeland Primary Shelter
Stambaugh Middle School Auburndale Primary Shelter
PCHD Specialty Care Units Bartow Special Needs Shelter
Bartow Senior High School Bartow Primary Shelter
Stephens Elementary School Bartow Primary Shelter
Spessard L. Holland Elementary School Bartow Primary Shelter
Ridge Community High School Davenport Primary Shelter
Ridgeview Global Studies Academy Davenport Primary Shelter
Lake Region High School Eagle Lake Pet-Friendly Shelter
Haines Adult Daycare Center Haines City Special Needs Shelter
Scott Lake Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Sleepy Hill Elementary School Lakeland Primary Shelter
Purcell Elementary School Mulberry Primary Shelter
Lake Marion Creek School Poinciana Primary Shelter
Laurel Elementary School Poinciana Primary Shelter
Palmetto Elementary School Poinciana Primary Shelter
Chain of Lakes Elementary Winter Haven Primary Shelter

• Do not proceed to any shelter until you have confirmed that it is open and operating.

• Public Shelter Policies

  • All shelters are not automatically activated for each possible emergency. Shelters are opened as they are needed. They are not preassigned by geographic area.
  • For shelter information, monitor local radio and television.
  • Have a 3-day survival kit ready to take with you.
  • NOPETS (except at designated pet-friendly sites), NO WEAPONS and NOALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES are allowed in Public Shelters.
  • For information about pet-friendly shelters, call the Emergency Management office at (863) 534-5600 or
  • For further information, please consult the reverse side of this brochure.

• 3-Day Survival Kit

You should plan to be self-sufficient for at least three days during and after a disaster. You should anticipate no water, electrical power or utilities for that period of time. To ensure the comfort of your family, whether at home or evacuated to another location, it is suggested that the following items, at a minimum, be assembled and readily available:

  • Food (canned goods and nonperishable foods)
  • Prescription medicines and first aid kit
  • Infant care items
  • Infant/Adult Diapers
  • Drinking water in nonbreakable containers (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Special dietary food, if required
  • Identification, valuable papers, policies & photographs in a waterproof container
  • Books, magazines, cards, toys, games
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Carrying container for items
  • Utensils, including manual can opener, disposable tableware
  • Sleeping bag, blanket, sheets & pillow
  • Extra personal aids, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.
  • Portable chairs
  • Change of clothes
  • Battery operated items (radio, flashlight, etc.) with extra batteries
  • Credit cards, cash & extra set of car keys
  • Rainwear
  • Make arrangements for the boarding of your pets, if possible. (Pets are NOT allowed in any public shelters, except in the three pet-friendly shelters, where space is limited.)

• Special Needs Program

The Polk County Special Needs Program is designed to provide sheltering at Special Needs Shelters for residents with medical or physical conditions and/or dependent on medical electrical equipment who require assistance during an emergency. The Special Needs Shelters are Lakeland Adult Daycare Center (21)Haines City Adult Daycare Center (13) and Polk County Health Dept. Bartow Specialty Care Unit (2).

The program also provides transportation to public shelters and pet friendly shelters for those unable to evacuate on their own. Pre-registration in the program, for medical needs or for transportation only, is preferred by contacting Emergency Management (863) 534-5600. 
• Pet-Friendly Shelters

Pet-friendly shelters have been established at Philip O’Brien Elementary School (23), Lakeland (formerly Lime Street Elementary)Lake Region High School (10), Eagle Lake; and Alta Vista Elementary School (12), Haines City. Due to space limitations, the sites will be strictly for pet-friendly groups and will be limited to providing shelter only for dogs, cats, birds, and their owners. As in any other sheltering situation, residents are advised to consult the local media or Citizens Information Line to ensure a specific shelter is open and operating before proceeding to that facility. Other shelter requirements include complete shot records for each pet, which will be reviewed upon arrival at the shelter; an airline-approved carrying case, in which each animal brought to the shelter will remain for the duration of their stay; food for the pet for at least a three-day period; and an agreement, signed by the pet owner upon registration, that confirms that the pet will be accompanied by an owner throughout the duration of the sheltering.

Failure to comply with any of these items could preclude someone being able to enter the shelters.



As a proactive measure while the rains continue, sandbags will be provided to Polk County residents at 14 Polk County Fire Rescue stations.  A maximum of 25-30 sandbags will be provided to each household to help prevent water intrusion into the home. Beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug.28, the following locations will provide sand and sandbags so bring your shovel and get prepared.

·         Babson Park Fire Station – 714 South Alt. 27 in Babson Park

·         Caloosa Lake Fire Station – 14684 N US Highway 27 in Lake Wales

·         Cottonwood Fire Station – 126 Cottonwood Dr. in Davenport

·         Crystal Lake Support Station – 2450 E Main St. in Lakeland

·         Golfview Fire Station – 2902 Hwy 60 East in Lake Wales

·         Indian Lakes Est. Fire Station – 221 Hogan Lane in Indian Lake Estates

·         Jan Phyl Fire Station – 333 American Spirit Blvd in Winter Haven

·         Mulberry Fire Station – 900 5th Street NE, Mulberry

·         Nalcrest Fire Station – 69101 Nalcrest Rd. in Nalcrest,

·         Polk City Fire Station – 200 Commonwealth Ave. SW in Polk City

·         Providence Fire Station- 8936 Hwy 98 N in north Lakeland

·         Sleepy Hill Fire Station – 3030 Sleepy Hill Road in Lakeland

·         Solivita Fire Station – 1201 Cypress Parkway in Poinciana

·         Willow Oak Fire Station – 4210 Willis Rd. in Mulberry

Residents living in flood prone areas are encouraged to sandbag their homes. To protect against water damage, follow these simple sandbagging techniques.

At the area where water can enter a structure:

(1)  If not working on concrete, a small ditch should be dug just deep enough to go below ground level. The ditch should be back far enough from the entrance to allow room to place optional submersible (sump) pumps into the protected area. The edge of the visqueen should be placed in the ditch as a bottom layer.

(2)    Place the first row of sandbags in ditch, fold visqueen over the top of first row, place a second row of bags on top, fold visqueen back over, place a third row of bags on top, and so on. This creates an “S” pattern with the visqueen.

(3)    Depending on the size of the barrier, one or more submersible (sump) pumps should be utilized. The barrier will not completely stop water from entering the protected area. However, with the proper placement of bags, visqueen and sump pumps, water, in most cases, can be removed quickly.

To report flooding of homes or for the most updated information, please continue to monitor your local news media or call the Citizen’s Information Line at 863-401-2234 (locally) or toll-free 866-661-0228. Information is also available on PGTV (Bright House 644, Comcast 5 or Verizon 20), or check the county website for updates You may also obtain further emergency information at and