Citrus County residents prepare for Hurricane Michael

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As Hurricane Michael inches closer to a Florida landfall, some counties in the Tampa Bay area are prepping for storm surge and flooding. In Citrus County, officials are already ordering some people to evacuate, and schools are closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shelters open at 9 a.m. in Citrus County for people who need a place to stay. As for their homes, dozens of people stopped to grab sandbags after work.

“I’ve never had to prepare like this. I’ve always had to stay in my home for the whole season every year. This is the first year I’ve had to come out and get sandbags,” said Diane Blumberg, a Citrus County resident.

County workers dumped and packed hundreds of pounds of sand into bags Monday, helping residents load their cars. 

“Hopefully they will allow us to get a couple more throughout the week, so we can try to protect what we do have left. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Jon Gonzalez, a Citrus County resident.

As of Monday night, the county was under a tropical storm and storm surge warnings. For many bringing the sand bags home, they recall the impact of Hurricane Hermine. Carrol Halvorsen said her Crystal River home faced the impact of two hurricanes so far.

“I didn’t sandbag the last time, so I said I better go do it. And this car wouldn’t take enough bags,” said Halvorsen.

She lives in evacuation Zone A, an area where county officials are ordering an immediate evacuation.

“My granddaughter lives about 16 miles away, so I’ll go there,” said Halvorsen.

Not all residents are heading the advice of officials. 

“I’m going to start with the sandbags for the water, but we just have faith that it’s not going to happen,” said JImmy Grimsley, a resident of Crystal River. 

People who live in mobile homes and RVs also need to evacuate. Citrus County, Tarpon Springs and Pasco County have a couple of sandbag locations open Tuesday for anyone who needs to grab bags.