MIAMI SHORES, FLA. (WSVN) - With Hurricane Dorian nearing the Bahamas, and with the Sunshine State currently under a state of emergency, South Florida residents flocked to stores and gas stations as they continue to monitor the storm’s path.
7News cameras captured a line of shoppers outside of the Publix supermarket in Miami Shores waiting for the store to open, early Friday morning.
“Early bird gets the worm,” said a man.
“I thought that, as it gets busier and crazier, I’d rather get it done now and be ready to go,” said a woman.
Regardless of where the storm ends up this weekend or early next week, shoppers said they’re not taking any chances.
“It’s still a storm, you know? So we’ve got to get ready,” said a shopper.
The Miami Shores Publix remained busy and bustling all day Friday, as shoppers picked up their survival essentials.
“Today, we’re just gonna get some snacks and just some more beverages to be prepared,” said shopper Jehrel Williams.
Meanwhile, shoppers filled their carts with bulk quantities of nonperishable items at the Costco in North Miami.
Bottled water remained a popular item all week long. Entire cases flew off the shelves across South Florida.
Jerry Pollack, a shopper at a Publix in Fort Lauderdale, picked up several gallons of water.
“Just to be prepared. It’s supposed to go further north, but we’ll save these till November,” he said.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers spent Friday loading up cases of bottled water and passing them out in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to those who need it most.
Meteorologists stressed all of Florida remains in the cone of uncertainty.
“I’ve only been through one hurricane down here. It wasn’t that bad,” said a Publix shopper as he pushed a cart filled with bottled water and groceries. “I just don’t want to be caught on the wrong end of the power curve, right?”
“I’ve been through Andrew, I’ve been through Wilma, I’ve been through Irma and I don’t want to go through this one,” said Fort Lauderdale shopper Gayle Morton.
“We have four toddlers at home,” said shopper Julie Basil. “I have two sets of grandtwins so [you] gotta be ready for that. We’re hunkering down, and we learned from our last one, and as we go along we just learn and go with it.”
At a Presidente Supermarket in Miami, Mirtha Hernandez couldn’t wait to do some shopping to stock up for the storm because she knows what happens if people wait until the last minute.
“No, I never wait,” Hernandez said. “You have to be running, and when you get to the store, you don’t get nothing.”
Plywood was on the move Friday as shoppers picked up supplies at the Home Depot in North Miami.
“I just had to replace a few boards I had already,” said shopper Yves Antoine.
“I got lucky. Just in time. There’s a half a pound of plywood left,” said a shopper.
Shoppers zeroed in on batteries, flashlights and flameless candles. Despite their weight and hefty price tag, generators became hot sellers.
As essentials kept getting restocked, employees resorted to old-fashioned announcements to alert shoppers.
“Get your flashlights, $5 flashlights,” barked an employee as she held up a yellow Eveready flashlight.
Emergency shipments kept coming in by the lift-load.
Sixteen bundles of plywood came in overnight, bringing relief to shopper Marlene Kozak, who was able to buy plywood for her daughter’s home.
“She just lives within a mile of here, but she just had back surgery, so I am out helping her get supplies with my other daughter,” she said.
Another plywood shipment came into the store Friday night.
When asked how long it takes for him to board up his house, Antoine replied, “Under two hours. It’s not too bad.”
Not everyone who came to Home Depot was operating with good intentions. 7News cameras captured North Miami Police cruisers in the parking lot, as officers tried to catch up with price-gouging opportunists.
A handwritten signs on Biscayne Boulevard read, “Four-by-eight plywood wood, $20.00 per sheet.” A truck driving by peddled plywood by attaching an actual piece of plywood with “protect your home with wood” spray-painted in Spanish.
Emergency officials have urged residents to prepare for a possible hurricane strike that could come as soon as Monday.
“At this point, it’s all about preparation,” said Tracy Jackson, Broward County’s director of emergency management. “Everybody should already have an idea about what they’re going to do when the storm’s threatening. This is a great time to verify those things.”
Residents should have a three-day supply for water, a gallon per person per day. They should also have food that is easy to prepare, pet supplies, baby needs, batteries, flashlights and paper goods.
Officials urged residents to ensure they have all their prescriptions filled and to withdraw cash from ATMs in case of a power outage.
“You should have seven days of food, medicine, and water as part of your plan,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press conference at the National Hurricane Center. “I know people are going to the stores now. Some of the water is still flying off the shelves, but you still have time to prepare, so do it.”
Miami-Dade officials reiterated the governor’s call for preparedness.
“Regardless of Dorian’s path, we are now entering the busiest part of the hurricane season, so everyone should prepare now,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Fort Lauderdale shopper Sabrina Seureau listed the items in her cart.
“Wine, water, lots of sandwich meats. You know, always better to stock up in advance,” she said. “Yeah, I’m not scared. It’s South Florida. We see hurricanes all the time.”
Drone video captured a long line of cars at a Costco gas station in Miami Lakes.
“We have to be ready. We don’t what can happen,” said a customer.
Wednesday evening, DeSantis declared Florida was under a state of emergency.
“It’s important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely. Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine and should have a plan in case of disaster,” he said. “I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare.”
Seasoned South Floridians said they aren’t too worried yet, but they’re watching closely.
“Well, we’ve been through a bunch of them. We’ve been down here 55 years, so we know what to expect,” said a Fort Lauderdale shopper. “Andrew was a wake-up call.”
“I’ve had hurricanes since 1998. I’ve lived in Florida, I’ve lived in the Keys, so this is familiar to me,” said Kozak.
“Like we learned from Irma and Maria, it can change at the drop of a hat, and I think that’s what happened with this one, too,” said Williams, “so it’s better to just be prepared right now, even if you feel like it might not be that big of a deal.”
Home Depot locations in South Florida will remain open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.
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