Sarasota Co. offers evacuation assistance during hurricanes

- It's hard to believe but hurricane season is right around the corner.

It's vital to come up with a plan and be prepared to evacuate, if you have to.

Officials in Sarasota County are making it easier for those who can't leave with a new plan to get some residents out.

If you want to be a part of it, you've got to register early.

“Many people stay at home for health concerns or pets or whatever. Even though they may have been warned to leave, they didn't,” said Steve Guetschow with the Southwest Florida Red Cross. “They're sitting at home thinking everybody, knows they have problems and, the reality is, we don't know until somebody notifies us.”

Sarasota County officials hope to change that mind set. They're asking people who know they'll need help to register with the county now.

When a hurricane heads our way, they'll call and ask residents to meet at certain rally points.

“If they get to the rally point they'll be taken to the shelter,” said Sarasota Co. Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane.

If they can't get to that rally point on their own, county transportation will step in to help.

If you think you will need the help, you will have to register 60 hours before a hurricane makes landfall.

But it's an even better idea to register now, before hurricane season starts.

“This was a need we felt we had to have in place before this season," McCrane said.

You can learn more about the program at the Venice Hurricane Expo Saturday at the Venice Community Center.

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