Sarasota County's automated alert system warned county residents Saturday morning at about 3:15 a.m. of a possible levee break in the Hidden River/Myakka Valley area.
"Possible levee break in the area of Hidden River/Myakka Valley with potential of 15 feet of flood water," the text message alert reads. "Residents are urged to shelter in place if it is safe to do so as exit routes and roadways may be impassable."
That message was confirmed by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office later Saturday morning, clarifying that although the message likely went to everyone in the county who registered for alerts, the compromised levee should only impact the east side of the Hidden River community.
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"For additional clarification, this levee compromise SHOULD NOT impact any other areas in Sarasota County including Venice or North Port," wrote Kaitlyn Perez, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. "At this time, deputies are working with Sarasota County Fire personnel to go door-to-door and advise residents of potential flooding."
A little more than two hours earlier the US National Weather Service in Tampa Bay took to social media and wrote, "there is NO imminent levee failure expected along the Myakka River."
In a comment about the same time, NWS forecasters wrote, "Flooding does continue, however. Remember to listen to local officials in your area."
When peppered by questions on social media in the hours after, about whether the text message was accurate and whether residents should take shelter, NWS repeated, "there is currently no expected change in impacts."
Myakka Valley is in eastern Sarasota County. Brianne Grant, media relations officer for Sarasota County government, said the information supplied by the Sheriff's Office was accurate, noting that the levee was privately owned by the Hidden Valley community.
County officials did not have an immediate comment on the NWS tweets.
According to Herald-Tribune archives, that levee was breached in 2003. The Hidden Valley neighborhood is located on the north side of the Myakka River State Park.
Additional information was not immediately available, but the Herald-Tribune will update this story as more information becomes available.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Update: Compromised levee could send 15 feet of water into Sarasota neighborhood