Preparations underway as Hurricane Irma approaches

MIAMI SHORES, FLA. (WSVN) - Before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, people across South Florida are stocking up on supplies.

It was a busy night at a Miami Shores Publix, Tuesday.

The parking lot was packed with shoppers.

Valerie Jones, who lives and works in Miami-Dade, has been up since 5 a.m. Her daughter spent the day picking up medicine. After work, Jones and her granddaughter picked up food for the whole family.

“I’m trying to get everything for my mom and my kids and my grandkids,” said Jones.

When asked if she feels like she’s ready for the hurricane, Jones replied, “I’m not ready. No, I ain’t never ready, but I’m ready now.”

Miami-Dade officials said residents should indeed be getting ready.

“This is a powerful storm which poses a serious threat,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

School cancelations are set to begin Wednesday night. “Extracurricular activities, athletic activities as well as adult and night school shall be canceled tomorrow night,” said Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “And again, all activities county-wide in all public schools across Miami-Dade will be shut down, cancelled for Thursday and Friday.”

As county officials watch the storm, they are encouraging everyone to get ready.

Ice and water are two items that top the list of essentials for the storm. Make sure to get a gallon of water per person per day. Non-perishable foods and foods that don’t need refrigeration are also good to stock up on.

Don’t forget to grab enough baby food if you have a child and also get necessary medication.

Officials are saying that in the midst of preparing, it’s also important to be informed. The mayor said Miami-Dade County is ready to take some big actions to keep everyone safe. “I would rather inconvenience our residents on this occasion than suffer any unnecessary loss of life,” Gimenez said.

A Miami Beach Publix has run out of water a couple times Tuesday, but the manager said that more is on the way.

Nicole Chery, who was shopping at a Publix in Miami Shores, said she has tried and failed to find water as she prepares for the hurricane.

“They say that they can’t give me any pack,” said Chery. “They say that the truck is on the way, but they don’t have no time frame.”

One Home Depot in Hollywood is already out of water, generators and plywood, Tuesday evening. “Water would have been here” said one employee. “We had actual pallets in cases here, as you can see – as it’s spaced out – unfortunately, we pretty much ran out.”

Workers said they should be getting a new shipment sometime in the afternoon.

In the meantime, many people were hard at work to make sure they are prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best.

“From what I’m hearing, this one is gonna be a big one,” said one woman.

A Home Depot in Hollywood was still ringing customers up 15 minutes after closing time.

“We have a lot of windows and we have shutters too,” said Jamie Mink, “but we’re going to cover it with plywood just to be safe.”

Wesley Desa has a shutter installation project on his hands. The father of four from Miami couldn’t find the hardware he needed near home, so he came to the Hollywood Home Depot to load up.

“Put that into the concrete and, you know, put your shutters up,” said Desa, “and should be safe, should be secure.”

There is still time to get what you need, but the lines are long.

“I’m gonna need a lot more, but the line’s so long, I can’t stand here too long,” said one shopper.

Materials are running out, too.

“Ten pieces per person, so 50 people left, and we’ll be out of plywood,” said another man.

Lilian Azulay said she’s already stocked up on water. “Well, I found it. I came earlier.”

But not everyone looking for water in Hollywood was that lucky. Joan Nagar said she’s been striking out during her water run. “Walmart, CVS, Target,” she said.

Also on the list of must haves are flashlights, batteries and gasoline.

“For this time you need gas, really,” said Moises Tizo, “because most of nothing electric is working, so if you don’t have cars in this country, you’re done.”

At a Miami Lakes Costco, customers were seen lining up outside the wholesale store until the moment doors opened at 10 a.m. Cases of water were bought in bulk at this Costco location and lines snaked throughout the entire store.

Photo by 7News viewer Jasmine Sias Richardson
Photo by 7News viewer Jasmine Sias Richardson

In Pembroke Pines, a Costco location had customers lining up before 5 a.m. The store announced it would open an hour earlier, at 9 a.m., but as of 6:30 a.m., 7News learned water has yet to be delivered.

Propane is also a major necessity. A 7News viewer sent in a picture of the line for propane at Hollywood’s Big Mini Food Store.

Businesses are trying to keep the shelves stocked, but the goods are going fast and for many like Nagar, the work at home awaits.

“Taking all the patio furniture, the plants, the chairs, you know, the whole ritual,” Nagar said.

Items are going fast so authorities are warning the public to keep a close eye on price gauging.

Those things typically happen during big storms and just before they hit. The Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, has set up a hotline to call if you feel like there is price gouging going on anywhere.

Broward County officials got the word out, warning residents that this storm is not to be taken lightly.

“We are here because Hurricane Irma is a very large and powerful category 5 storm, and we do expect to have some impact from the storm beginning on Friday,” said Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief.

Broward County officials plan to issue an evacuation. Shelter locations are still being finalized. They expect to have 43 shelters, with a capacity of around 33,000 people.

“At 3 p.m. today, the Broward County Emergency Operations Center partially activated in response to Hurricane Irma,” said Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief. “To complete important pre-storm activity, those pre-storm activities include planning for an evacuation, if needed and at this time, no evacuation has been ordered for Broward County.”

If you go to the shelter, bring everything you need for comfort. Shelters in Broward County are likely to open Thursday.

Broward County Public Schools will also be closed on Thursday and Friday.

If you need to contact the Broward County Call Center, call 311 or (954) 831-4000.

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