Space Coast residents finish boarding up, prepare to evacuate ahead of Dorian

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — Some residents of Florida’s Space Coast found themselves under mandatory evacuation orders, as eastern coastal areas across the state braced for Hurricane Dorian’s impact.

The National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Warning that extends from coastal parts of Jupiter to the Brevard/Volusia County line.

A mandatory evacuation order for Brevard County’s barrier islands is set to go into effect Monday at 8 a.m.

On Sunday afternoon, however, beachgoers and kitesurfers took the opportunity to enjoy some sun, sand and balmy breezes on Cocoa Beach.

7’s DroneCam flew over Cocoa Beach’s Boardwalk and Pier, nearly deserted despite the clear skies and sunshine.

Hotels in the area are completely boarded up and closed down. 7News cameras captured workers doing last-minute preps.

“I’ve been in Florida all my life, and this is the biggest storm I’ve ever seen come this way, and it’s a little terrifying,” said Tom Gerwig, who works at The Inn at Cocoa Beach.

As for area residents, many are already gone. They left their houses boarded up.

Some residents even took the time to write messages on the plywood. One that read, “No Irma Here” had “Irma” crossed out and replaced with “Dorian.”

Other residents who have not left spent their day putting up shutters.

When asked whether he planned to stay during the storm, area resident Richard Dufaj replied, “Oh, no. As soon as I get everything buttoned up, I’m leaving, at like midnight.”

7News cameras captured residents driving away from the barrier islands. Some, like evacuee Alvinique Sapp and her son, headed to one of 13 storm shelters Brevard County officials opened up farther inland.

“My home just doesn’t feel too safe, you know? I didn’t have no boarding up. I got my kid and everything,” said Sapp.

Port Canaveral, which was full of cruise ships and boats as recently as Saturday, was essentially empty on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s pretty scary, so I’m just hoping it just stays offshore,” said Cocoa Beach resident Kevin Codder.

Even without a direct hit, Dorian could bring hurricane-strength winds and storm surge to the Space Coast.

That threat is dangerous enough for many, including Dufaj and Sapp, to pack up and go.

“I hope that, if it does come, I’m safe because I’m out of an evacuation zone,” said Sapp.

Others, meanwhile, kept some of their shutters halfway open while they wait to see what the unpredictable Category 5 storm does next.

“You can’t trust anything. I mean, Mother Nature’s Mother Nature,” said Dufaj.

“Like he said, it’s Mother Nature. She can do whatever she wants to do,” said resident Robin Reiland.

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