Sarasota County will not seek an extension this week of its local emergency rules due to red tide, effectively lifting the local state of emergency that was issued Aug. 14.
The county has submitted seven extensions of the emergency declaration since then, but decided not to issue another due to low amount of red tide reported this past week and due to the forecast of easterly winds from Hurricane Michael which pushed the current red tide bloom further off the Gulf shore.
The news came as the Florida Panhandle readied for Hurricane Michael, which made landfall Wednesday.
“The county continues to see improved conditions along shorelines with reports of minimal dead marine life on beaches,” said Scott Montgomery with Emergency Management.
“Today (Wednesday), the cities reported continued monitoring with similar conditions. Yesterday, we informed the cities as part of the Hurricane Michael City/County Leadership Conference that with the improved conditions, we were going to let the red tide state of emergency expire,” Montgomery said.
In an online red tide situation report issued by Sarasota County Emergency Management on Oct. 9, officials said they will have a draft local state of emergency ready to re-issue should higher concentrations of red tide re-emerge.
Emergency Management is currently at a Level 2 (partial activation). Over the past week the K. brevis toxin released by red tide was tested at background to very low levels in many near-shore areas, up to high concentrations further offshore in a few locations north and south of Sarasota County.
Sarasota County Parks and Recreation continues to monitor and evaluate each morning whether fish kills will require beach cleaning by hand or mechanical beach cleaning, officials said.
The county collected a total of 255 tons of debris off area beaches since Aug. 1, according to the latest situation report.
Gov. Rick Scott issued an Emergency Order for six counties due red tide on Aug. 13 and announced that $3 million was available to assist impacted counties with cleanup. A Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant, which ends Dec. 1, 2018, allowed Sarasota County to contract with CrowderGulf to collect and remove red tide debris from beaches ($720,480) and for collecting, transporting and unloading the debris into designated dumpsters $124,400). The debris is then hauled to the central county landfill.
“Reimbursement and disbursement of funding through the DEP grant in coordination with OFM and cities will continue,” Montgomery said.