Highlands Co. prepares for the worst of Hurricane Irma

Highlands Co. EOC begins operations

SEBRING, Fla - People living around Highlands Co., just southeast of Tampa, are bracing for the worst of Hurricane Irma as the current track on Thursday shows the storm taking a more eastward trend, although, that's subject to change.

The county gave out 20,000 sand bags until they ran out Thursday morning.

They plan to get more to hand out on Friday.

That didn't stop people like Barbara Gillispie from stocking up, using trash bags to fill up.

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She showed us her trunk full of bags she and her friend will use for their apartments.

"Those are flexibags or something," she said, "so they'll be alright."

She and dozens of others made their way to the pick up location in Sebring next to the Emergency Operations Center which partially opened.

County employees were there answering calls from people around the county, mostly asking about the shelters.

They plan to open three either Friday night or Saturday morning.

"Some are nervous," said Amanda Carnahan, "especially those who are not from Florida, they're from up north and this is their first hurricane."

They plan to be fully staffed by Friday and will decide on whether to issue any evacuations in the area.
 "It's reassuring myself actually," said Carnahan, "to be able to talk to people and calm them down and let them know everything's okay and that highlands county does have plans set in place."

Schools around the county will close Friday and Monday.

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