Polk emergency management officials in 'wait and see' mode before making key decisions

LAKELAND, Fla. - Polk County emergency management officials are in a wait and see mode before making any key decisions about activating shelters and the Emergency Operations Center.

The head of emergency management told ABC Action News on Tuesday that for now his team is on stand-by.

“In this kind of storm you really are on the edge and it could go either way,” said Pete McNally, Director of Emergency Management for Polk County.

McNally said if the storm’s track inches closer inland, they’ll start activating shelters.

The message for now: be prepared for some type of storm and that includes being self-sufficient — if need be — for up to 72 hours.

“Definitely much more challenging, just because we don’t want to over hype it and we don’t want to under hype it either. We want to make sure we send the correct message to folks,” he said.

For anyone who lives through the trifecta in 2004 — Charley, Frances, and Jeanne — they know exactly how the wait and see mode feels.

“I have been here for all the bad ones,” said Sue Ready of Lakeland.

Tuesday afternoon at a Lakeland Publix, many shoppers already started to stock up on water and food, just in case.

“If that storm moves west, we should be prepared,” said Richard Lando, who is watching the track closely.

The latest advisory has Polk County out of the cone of uncertainty, but officials still want residents to be prepared.

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