Schools closed Friday, Monday; officials release storm shelter info

Hurricane Irma has canceled school.

On Thursday afternoon, Putnam County School District Superintendent announced district schools will be closed Friday and Monday because several schools will become storm shelters starting Saturday afternoon.

Surrency said the district has two built-in hurricane makeup days. He said no decision has been made about Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, Putnam County could begin feeling tropical storm-force winds as early as Saturday afternoon. Irma, currently a Category 5 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in South Florida on Saturday night. The most recent projects released by the National Weather Service show a cone of uncertainty that includes all of Putnam County. That means the county could take a direct hit from a weakened, but still powerful hurricane.

Storm shelters – staffed by Red Cross and school district personnel – will open 1 p.m. Saturday.

Shelters will be open at several Putnam County schools.

* Browning-Pearce Elementary School, 100 Bear Boulevard in San Mateo.

* Middleton-Burney Elementary School, 1020 Huntington Road in Crescent City.

* Q.I. Roberts Junior-Senior High School, 900 State Road 100 in Florahome.

* Interlachen Elementary School, 251 County Road 315 in Interlachen.

* Kelley Smith Elementary School, 141 Kelly Smith School Road in Palatka

* Ochwilla Elementary School, 299 State Road 21 in Hawthorne.

For information, contact the Emergency Operations Center at 329-1904.

Kelley Smith Elementary will serve as a special needs shelter, and Ochwilla Elementary is the lone shelter providing space for pets. Ochwilla will also house any registered sexual offenders and predators in a separate area with an increased law enforcement presence.

Surrency said those who stay at shelters must complete Red Cross paperwork and go through the school district’s background check program.

Surrency said those planning to go to shelters must bring material for sleeping. Food and water will be provided for residents in shelters.

“If people don’t have sleeping material, they’ll have to sleep on the floor,” Surrency said.

Emergency officials are encouraging all residents in low-lying areas and in trailers to evacuate.

Residents seeking preparation info are encouraged to call the Citizen Info Line at 386-326-7132. Additionally, the Emergency Operations Center has a call center available for folks with questions at 386-329-1904.