Final preps, evacuations in Palm Beach, Martin counties ahead of Dorian

JUPITER, Fla. (WSVN) — Now that a Hurricane Warning is in place for parts of northern Palm Beach County and up Florida’s east coast, residents said they want to make sure they’re ready to ride out Dorian, either at boarded-up homes, an emergency shelters or far away from the danger zone.

As the massive and unpredictable Category 5 storm crawls closer to the Sunshine State, up and down the Palm Beach coastline, businesses were boarding up all day Sunday.

“It’s a big storm. It’s a dangerous storm,” said a business owner in Delray Beach.

At Schooners, a seafood restaurant in Jupiter, employees on Sunday packed up and removed items that could potentially turn into projectiles, like parts of a ceiling fan.

“It’s not our first rodeo, but we are doing some definite precautions and making sure that we’re all together,” said server Shana DeYoung.

The restaurant closed earlier on Sunday, and it’s unlikely they will reopen Monday.

The wait for Dorian’s arrival is causing some fatigue among locals, as the storm’s path and impact in Florida remain uncertain.

“We’re boarded up. We have our food put away and have a safe place to go, so we’re ready,” said Stuart resident Clifford Burg, “but you’re never ready for a Cat 5.”

“Oh, we’re just waiting for it. It’s like waiting for a baby to be born,” said Stuart resident Sheri Burg. “Come on, come on, let’s get here and get it over with so we can get on with our lives.”

Jupiter resident Tyler Mulcahy said he and his family plan to stay home.

“Oh, yeah. We’ve got the hurricane windows. We’ve got everything. We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of alcohol saved up and water, and we’re good.”

Other residents said they’re leaving the area.

“I was going to strap my trailer down with big, huge ratchet straps, but I talked to some engineers and stuff, and they just can’t handle the force of that wind,” said a resident at a mobile home park.

A Delray Beach resident succinctly expressed the concern on many Floridians’ minds.

“If it doesn’t turn, we’re in trouble,” he said.

In addition to a Hurricane Warning that extends from Jupiter north to the Brevard/Volusia County line, a Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch have been issued for coastal Palm Beach County.

“We prepare for the worst case scenario because this storm heading toward West Palm Beach and with it slowing down,” said Palm Beach County Mayor Mack Bernard. “We have no idea what it’s going to do for hours as it slows down.”

“It’s my first time experiencing a Category 5,” said Delray Beach business owner Francesca Zefelluzzi.

After the sun went down, some Jupiter residents, including Mulcahy, went to Johnny Mangos Bar & Grill along East Indiantown Road to unwind.

“This is the only place open in the whole town. Everything else is boarded up,” said Mulcahy.

It turned out to be a quieter Sunday night than usual.

“The last supper. We want to stay here and have a good time while we can,” said Mulcahy.

Officials in Palm Beach and Martin counties have ordered mandatory evacuations.

“The police come in the morning and go around and tell everybody, ‘You need to move,'” said resident Rafael Gonzalez.

“Even if it does bypass us, we’ll still be a lot safer if we move out,” said resident Betty Murray.

In Palm Beach County, the evacuations went into effect Sunday afternoon for residential structures in Zone A and Zone B. Zone A includes mobile homes, sub-standard housing and low-lying areas prone to water intrusion. Zone B generally includes the barrier islands, land areas north and south of the Jupiter Inlet and other surge-vulnerable areas south along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Broward County line.

“If any resident wants to leave we prefer them to head west instead of heading north because we don’t want them to get stuck on the road,” said Bernard.

Officials urged Floridians not to take any chances with this hurricane.

“We’ve done everything we can do, the best that we can,” said Zefelluzzi.

“I think we’re pretty fine. I think that the people who want to evacuate, they can evacuate, but the people who want to stay here, they know what they’re in for,” said Mulcahy.

“I’m ready for the worst. We’re prepared for that, but I think it’s going to be quite bad,” said Sheri Burg.

“If I’m wrong, the worst thing I did was board up. If you’re wrong, you have a chance of losing everything,” said one business owner.

Palm Beach officials have opened up nine general population shelters, as well as a special needs shelter and a pet-friendly shelter.

The Town Center at Boca Raton has become a staging area for Florida Power and Light crews consisting of workers from all over the county. Officials with the company said it is the largest pre-storm restoration workforce in FPL history.

For more information about evacuations in Palm Beach County, click here.

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