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SLC County: Voluntary Evacuations Recommended; Shelters to Open at 10 a.m. Wednesday

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St. Lucie County - Tuesday November 8, 2022: St. Lucie County has issued a voluntary evacuation order for barrier island residents and county shelters will be open Wednesday morning.

St. Lucie County is currently under a state and local State of Emergency. The Emergency Operations Center is at activation level 1, the highest state of alert in anticipation of Nicole, a storm that is expected to be at Hurricane strength when it makes land fall.

“St. Lucie County is currently under a hurricane warning. The current storm track has the center of Nicole coming on shore just north of Vero Beach as a Category 1 Hurricane," said St. Lucie County Administrator Howard Tipton. "Our area will feel tropical storm force winds starting Wednesday afternoon and will continue through Thursday afternoon. We are also under a storm surge warning with an expected 3 to 5-foot storm surge.”

The storm surge threat has prompted a voluntary recommendation to residents along the St. Lucie County barrier islands to evacuate.

“We are strongly encouraging those who live in the barrier islands to evacuate and those as well in the low lying and mobile homes," said Rangel Guerrero is the SLC Public Safety Director. "Again, this is a voluntary evacuation. I repeat for those residents specifically in the barrier islands north and south Hutchinson islands, low lying areas, as well as mobile homes.”

Guerrero also said that 3 shelters will be open tomorrow morning in St. Lucie County.

“Shelters will be opened, 3 of them, at 10 AM tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. They are, a pet friendly shelter the Westwood High School in Fort Pierce. The General population shelter at Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie. And the special needs shelter at the Havert Fenn Center in Fort Pierce.”

“Today’s the day to batten the hatches. Today’s the day you should be shoring up what you need to do around the home," said Nate Spera is the St. Lucie County Fire District Chief. "Winds tomorrow are going to deteriorate and the last thing you want to be out there with plywood or panels and trying to install them at that time. Its our experience over 7 hurricanes over the last 15 years, the majority of the injuries happen both in the pre-storm and post-storm phase. And the pre-storm phase is where we have some of the most serious injuries when people try to rush to get shutters up.”