From the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office:
When a hurricane strikes, families may come home to destroyed houses, smashed windows, and no electricity. Unfortunately, not all of the damage can be blamed on Mother Nature.
Without electricity, city security cameras, alarms, and lights are inoperable. Businesses and streets are vacant, with home and business owners – or witnesses – absent due to mandatory evacuations. Law enforcement officers are busy clearing debris, directing traffic, and delivering emergency aid to people wounded by the storm. In short, the region becomes a kind of criminal’s paradise.
So in addition to bottled water, canned food, and batteries, Pinellas County beach community residents must now add one more item to their hurricane-prep kits: Emergency Access Permits.
In an effort to prevent looting and burglary after large-scale mandatory evacuations, Pinellas County barrier island cities have partnered with the Sheriff’s Office to provide free Emergency Access Permits to all businesses and residents. Once the mandatory evacuation is lifted, Emergency Access Permits will be required to re-enter the evacuated area. These permits will help ensure that people who don’t belong in your community stay out.
Local city officials have begun registering and distributing the permits (two per household), which residents must hang from their vehicles’ rearview mirrors for re-entry post-evacuation. Permits will also be issued to business owners.
When the evacuation is lifted, law enforcement officials posted at city entrances will scan the permits’ barcodes to verify residents and business owners and permit them back into the area, or identify trespassers and turn them away.
If you live or own a business in one of the following Pinellas County beach communities, contact your local government for more information about where and when to receive your permit:
Belleair Beach, Belleair Shores, Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Tierra Verde, Treasure Island.