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Information iconHurricane Irma from space. Photo by NASA/NOAA GOES.

Service prepares for Hurricane Irma

Releasing water. Moving trucks to higher ground. Closing up shop.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges, fish hatcheries, and offices in Hurricane Irma’s projected path undertook a series of safety and preventive measures Friday in preparation for the killer storm.

About 60 Service properties and 400 employees in Florida and Georgia sit within Irma’s hurricane and tropical storm cone. The Category 4 storm is expected to make landfall near Key Largo, Florida by 8 a.m. Sunday.

Each field station undertook hurricane prep plans beginning earlier this week. Most were expected to shut their doors by day’s end, unsure when they’d re-open. Refuges outside the target area also took precautions. They included:

  • The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida, moved trucks, boats and other equipment off the island or to higher ground. Water-control gates were opened.
  • The Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery in South Carolina released reservoir water to make way for Irma’s rain. The goal is to add three feet of space for the rain.
  • Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina removed water-control boards to allow some water to flow from the refuge. Neighboring farmers were informed beforehand and, so far, no complaints have been lodged. The boards will be replaced two or three days “before we see impacts from the storm,” the refuge complex manager said.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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