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Clewiston area prepares for Matthew; opens shelters

Posted at 8:01 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 21:37:45-04

CLEWISTON, Fla. -- Hendry County is in a local state of emergency and taking no chances with Hurricane Matthew, creating two self-serving sand bag locations for residents. 

Clewiston residents getting ready for the storm by bagging up and boarding up their homes where Tropical Storm force wins could be a threat. Some residents also buying gas in case electricity disappears and generators are needed. 

Many in Clewiston have not ruled out even leaving the area for a safer location.

The storm that's now barreling through the Bahamas is expected to reach the east coast of Florida late Thursday. A track that's too close for comfort for Clewiston City Manager Al Perry. 

"It can shift very fast, any shift to the west can cause us a lot of problems. We encourage folks to take every precaution you can, we are expecting the worst and praying for the best" said Perry. 

The path threatening major winds to the area, but some residents say they are more worried about Lake Okeechobee, hoping it is in good enough shape that their community is spared. 

The Army Corp released a statement today saying there is no concern about the integrity of the dike and they plan to monitor those conditions. 

If you are in the Clewiston area and are looking to fill sand bags, the sites will be open through tomorrow at 1100 Olympia Avenue. 

If you are looking for a safe place to stay in Hendry County, shelters are now in place.

The first shelter will be Clewiston Middle School at 601 West Pasadena Avenue, the second shelter will be LaBelle Middle School at 8000 East Cowboy Way. A special needs shelter will be held at West Glades School for people who have preregistered. 

These locations will be open to anyone beginning at 8am Thursday. The County says service pets will be allowed, but no personal pets. The Clewiston City Manager expects the shelters to see a lot of people. 

"This community went through some bad storms ten years ago, so there may be some vivid memories. There may be people in shelters for sure, we have a lot of folks that live in mobile homes and RVs." 

The American Red Cross will be the ones staffing the shelters beginning at 8am Thursday. 

Four In Your Corner will have team coverage form all over the state of Florida as Hurricane Matthew moves closer.