HOLMES AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES - Following a series of Saturday afternoon Emergency Management meetings in Holmes and Washington Counties, officials have announced the opening of both a special needs and general population shelter to local residents at 5 p.m. Sunday, September 10.

As of noon Sunday, Category 4 Hurricane Irma was leaving the Florida Keys and headed for the southwest Florida coast. Holmes and Washington Counties are currently under Tropical Storm Warnings.

Local Emergency Management Operations were placed on a Level 1 status Sunday morning to support shelter operations and preparation. Emergency Management officials state residents who live in mobile homes, RVs, or unsafe structures are "strongly urged" to use these shelters. Questions or concerns can be directed to Holmes County Emergency Management at 850-547-1112 or Washington County Emergency Management at 850-638-6203.

Currently, the following shelters will be open to local residents beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday:

GENERAL POPULATION:

New Hope Fire Department, located at 1969 Highway 2 in Westville,

Roulhac Middle School, located at 1535 Brickyard Road in Chipley

SPECIAL NEEDS:

Poplar Springs School, located at 3726 Atomic Drive in Graceville

Roulhac Middle School 5th Grade Wing (Building 12), located at 1535 Brickyard Road in Chipley

None of the local shelters can accept any animals other than service animals.

Other shelters which are not slated to open at this time but are on standby are:

HOLMES COUNTY

Bonifay K-8 School (general population)

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Chipley High School (789 capacity)

Vernon Middle School (1204 capacity)

Vernon High School (1547 capacity)

Look for updates on shelter openings at chipleypaper.com and on the Washington County News/Holmes County Times-Advertiser Facebook page