Sumter County commissioners vote to extend local state of emergency

As Sumter County continues to recover from Hurricane Irma, commissioners voted Tuesday night to extend the county’s local state of emergency.

County Administrator Bradley Arnold said 10 inches of rain fell on the county during the storm. Despite extensive flooding of golf courses and some multi-modal trails, he said no structures were flooded in The Villages.

The deluge caused sinkhole issues, but so far they have been on private property and have not affected roads, he said.

A kayaker spotted in the Village of Charlotte.
A kayaker spotted in the Village of Charlotte.

While tree damage was widespread, it was most severe in the Lake Panasoffee and Nobleton areas.

Arnold said 1,241 people and 200 animals were housed in the county’s 10 shelters and 18 people remained late Tuesday at the fairgrounds and 11 still were in a special needs shelter for people with medical needs. He praised volunteers and others who helped set up the shelters.

Arnold said he and about 24,000 other county residents still were without power and some repairs could take several days because some problems involve transformer feeder lines.

“It could be weeks before all of this is resolved,” he said.

The county administrator said he also is monitoring fuel supplies, both for county vehicles and public use.

“We are counting every gallon,” he said.

Sumter County received a shipment of diesel on Tuesday and unleaded gasoline on Wednesday. The county has 24 hours of fuel for its vehicles, Arnold said.

He said the county has not reached a threshold where residents can apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), but it may happen later.

Board Chairman Doug Gilpin praised the enthusiasm and positive attitude of volunteers and first responders, adding that they were “a tribute to Sumter County.”

Commissioner Al Butler said he saw conditions elsewhere in Florida driving from the Panhandle after the hurricane.