Hillsborough Co. extends local state of emergency due to outages, flooding

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – As the cleanup after Hurricane Irma continues, Hillsborough County leaders said they need more time to make sure things get back to normal.

On Tuesday morning, members of the Emergency Policy Group (EPG) extended the declaration for a state of local emergency until Tuesday, Sept.19.

Officials said it’s easy to look up and see the beautiful blue sky, but also easy to forget all the work that needs to be done on the ground.

They cite reasons like people still in shelters, power outages and flooding.

“There is a need to continue that response until we’ve gotten through this,” said Preston Cook, the Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director.  “Fortunately we didn’t see all the devastation that our neighbors did.”

When we asked Tampa Fire Deputy Chief Tom Forward about some people thinking that we’re out of the woods, Forward answered, “Not just yet.”

Even though the storm is gone and officials do the work, Chief Forward reminds residents to have provisions for three days and to remember that the cleanup affects everyone.

“We need everyone to remain calm,” Chief Forward told News Channel 8.  “We need everybody to practice the good neighbor policy.”

“We still have a lot of flooding in our inland rivers, (like the) Alifia, Hillsborough, (and) Little Manatee,” said Tom Merrill, Hillsborough County Administrator.  “Serious flooding and I think the rivers are starting to crest today but once we get in there and start looking for damage, there could be significant damage.

Cook said for the citizens of Hillsborough County, “We want them to be safe.”

This extended declaration begins Tuesday and some wonder if it could be extended again.  That remains to be seen.

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