Pinellas EOC watching Dorian, preparing just in case

Pinellas County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency Saturday, keeping a close eye on Hurricane Dorian as it churns through the Atlantic.

Commissioners met with the county administrator, the county sheriff, and the director for the Office of Emergency Management during a morning meeting to update the public on storm preparation plans.

"By declaring a state of emergency, they delegate the authority to conduct evacuations, waive purchasing requirements, and things like that to prepare and mitigate the impacts of this storm," said County Administrator Barry Burton. 

All week long, EOC personnel have been working long shifts to prepare for a storm response they hope doesn't happen, " The public doesn't see that, but we know how hard you're working... even if nothing happens, you have prepared - and we appreciate that," said Vice-Chair Pat Gerard. 

With Dorian's track changing by the hour, the Emergency Management Director says it's too early to tell whether emergency shelters are necessary, but they're ready to go if they are.

"We're going to continue planning as if this was coming towards us," said Director Cathie Perkins. "We're going to continue to tweak those plans looking at the timing, making modifications, but as of yesterday we were ready to go if we had to open up shelters for up to 39,000 people."

Stay with FOX13 and for the latest updates on Hurricane Dorian.