South Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew; warnings issued

POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - As Hurricane Matthew makes its way to South Florida in the next few hours, Miami-Dade and Broward residents are preparing for the storm, as hurricane and tropical storm warnings remain in effect for the area.

A tropical storm warning is now in effect for the Upper and Middle Florida Keys, a watch that will stay in effect until Saturday night.

A hurricane warning was put into effect for Broward County to the Volusia-Brevard county line. A tropical storm remains in effect for Miami-Dade County.

As of the 5 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the storm was centered about 225 miles southeast of West Palm Beach. It was moving northwest at about 12 mph. The storm is packing sustained winds of 125 mph.

Before the doors opened Wednesday morning at the Miami Shores Publix, shoppers were there, ready to stock up on last minute items.

Batteries, canned goods and water were flying off the shelves. Some shoppers had trouble even finding a parking spot.

“I’m a little nervous about going inside because everyone’s parking all out on the grass, and it’s just crazy,” one shopper said.

Meanwhile, Publix employees placed shutters on the entrance as shoppers stocked up. For some, as quick as they got in, they came out empty-handed.

“Very little water left, very little everything left,” said a customer who grabbed one of the last cases of water left in the morning. “The last minute little stuff, you know.”

“Out early, I’m not usually up this early. It’s more like 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m.,” another shopper said. “The last minute little stuff, you know.”

The new shipment of water did eventually get to the Publix, where it was placed right at the door.

While some were making preparations at the last minute, others just wanted to get a little extra to feel confident in their preparations.

“I got everything, I thought, but I got home and I go, let me be sure because they’re talking about this could be a big baby. So we’re going to get some water here, so be ready,” one customer said.

The last gallon went off the shelf around 5 p.m., but employees have been keeping shoppers updated on when new shipments will be in.

Miami-Dade County officials held a news conference, Tuesday morning, at the Emergency Operations Center, to discuss what preparations and precautions residents should be taking.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said there is a 60 percent probability of tropical storm winds hitting Miami-Dade County on Thursday. “The message is very simple,” he said. “The message is, you should be prepared for the eventuality of a hurricane like we did in June.”

“Have three days of food, have three days of water,” said Gimenez. “If you’re electrically dependent, please call 3-1-1 and advise us. We have 200 people in our registry, and we want to make sure that anybody who is electrically dependent, we have in our registry so that we can take care of them.”

No evacuation plans have been issued at this time for Miami-Dade or Monroe counties.

For a list of gas stations in Miami-Dade County that will be operating during the storm if electricity goes out, click on the tweet below.

Many Home Depot customers also gathered supplies like plywood and grills in case their homes loses power.

Propane tanks were also on high demand at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Hollywood. It’s a big item on the hurricane check list, as is cash. Credit cards may be worthless at some businesses if the power goes out after the storm.

“Cash, just in case something happens right,” said Addison Chi as he waited in line for gas.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott held a briefing in Marathon, Tuesday morning, where he met with county emergency management officials to discuss Hurricane Matthew.

“We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Scott. “We are not taking any chances.”

Residents in South Florida during hurricane season are usually advised to plan and not to panic, and with Matthew, currently a category 4 storm, it’s best to stock up on supplies and review your family’s hurricane plan.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is urging people not to take any chances with Matthew, comparing it to what was seen with Hurricane Andrew. “Hurricane Matthew is a category 4 hurricane and deadly,” he said during a news conference Monday. “If Matthew directly impacts Florida, there will be massive destruction that we haven’t seen in years, comparable to what we saw with Hurricane Andrew.”

Scott has declared a state of emergency for every single Florida county. “Now, the projected path is a little off the coast, he can change on a moment’s notice,” he said.

“We got the shutters ready, we got the water, the food. We’re pretty much good to go,” said another shopper, who’s not leaving anything to chance.

For those who live in an area that typically floods, bags of sand is one way to alleviate the situation. Rudy’s Ready Mix on Northwest 47th Street in West Miami-Dade is giving away sandbags to whoever needs them until 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re donating 50,000 pounds of sand to whoever might need it because the hurricane is coming, so I know a lot of people are gonna get flooded,” said Rudy de la Mora, owner of Rudy’s Ready Mix.

For information on sandbag giveaways visit this link.

Florida Power & Light activated their emergency response plan and already have 4,000 crews ready to go. “With these heavy rains and winds, we expect to see vegetation coming in contact with our lines, debris as well,” said FPL spokesperson Florencia Contesse. “So it’s important to know that customers could experience outages.”

Carlos Castillo with the Red Cross said preparation is simple. “Get a kit, make a plan and stay informed,” he said.

Hurricane Matthew is big and powerful, and Gov. Scott said the storm could leave us with very little time to react. “If an evacuation order is activated for your area, leave immediately,” he said, “and think about it if it does turn west, we won’t have a lot of time for an evacuation.”

“We are going to closely monitor the storm,” said Director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management Curtis Somerhoff. “We also urge the public to closely monitor this storm forecast error a few days out in forecast track. It can be hundreds of miles, so we want everyone in the public, if you don’t have a plan, start thinking about your plan on what you’ll need to prepare your home, get those supplies that you need in advance of the storm, and we want everyone to be safe and be ready to move in the event that we need to call preparatory actions here in Miami-Dade County.”

Supplies you can stock up on include batteries, paper towels, a gallon of water, non-perishable food, a weather radio and medications. It’s also a good idea to gas up your car and grab cash from the bank.

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