Hurricane Dorian: Central Floridians Stock Up, Governor Wants Early Disaster Declaration And Burglars Beware
Central Floridians are snapping up supplies ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s potentially devastating landfall over the holiday weekend.
The region is at the heart of forecasts projecting Dorian will be a major Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes landfall Monday morning.
Taina Solivan works at an Orlando Home Depot. She said the store is crazy.
“We got a thousand water bottle packs, and it was gone within six hours, four hours. It was quick. All the water is going. We have no generators. We have no water. We have no propane. We have no grills. We don’t have anything. Everything is gone.”
In Cape Canaveral there are reports of gas shortages. Dorian would be the third major hurricane to hit the state in three years.
Back at the Home Depot Customer Kevin Schwartz said he didn’t want to wait to stock up.
“I’ve lived here for about 20 years, and I’ve been through Charlie, Frances, Jeane and all the ones of the past, and I think it’s just a matter of time before we get a direct hit. And I think it’s coming right at us. It’s scary, you know?”
Governor Asks For Disaster Declaration Ahead of Storm
Governor Ron DeSantis is asking FEMA and President Donald Trump to approve a disaster declaration before Hurricane Dorian makes landfall.
"I'm gonna be submitting today a request for pre-landfall declaration from the president and FEMA so we can give assistance to folks here in Brevard County for protective measures," DeSantis said at Brevard County’s Emergency Operations Center Thursday afternoon.
The state is working with Walmart and Publix to get more water into the state. Florida already has 800,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution after the storm.
The governor said the biggest challenge is the uncertainty in the forecast models, with landfall possible anywhere from the Florida Keys to Georgia.
"When the cone goes from the Keys to Georgia, you want people to be prepared," DeSantis said. "To a certain extent people look at that and say, 'OK, where is this thing gonna go?'"
He said residents that end up in the impacted area should expect to lose power.
Volusia Sheriff Reminds Residents: Penalties For Burglary Are Harsher During Emergencies
Volusia County emergency officials expect to announce tomorrow if they will recommend residents evacuate.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said causeways are closed when wind speeds reach a sustained level.
"It's recommended when the wind speeds hit a sustained wind of 39 miles per hour, the bridges are shut down," Chitwood said. "I think it's about 55 or 57 miles per hour, first responders get pulled off the streets."
First responders try to keep the west-bound lanes of the causeways open as long as possible to give people the chance to leave the barrier islands. Brevard officials reminded residents that causeways do not close before a storm and that there is no special pass that allows residents to leave.
The Volusia County sheriff also reminded residents that penalties for crimes like burglary are increased during a state of emergency.
"The entrepreneurial folks in our community that want to take advantage of a natural disaster to go out and commit crimes, so that you know, we're in a state of emergency," Chitwood said. "And if you insist on committing a crime, especially a burglary, that penalty is enhanced under a state of emergency."
With A Holiday Weekend, Will Hotels Have Capacity?
Hurricane Dorian is projected to make landfall on a busy holiday weekend. So will that impact capacity for possible evacuees?
Rosen Hotel’s Director of Guest Relations Jennifer Rice-Palmer said their hotels were booked to capacity - but that’s not the case now.
"Originally we were completely sold out, but as this storm started approaching and advisories started coming and people started realizing Central Florida really was a target, we had cancellations," she said. "So for every cancellation we’ve had, we had someone come in to be able to re-book.”
And that's typical for a hurricane, she said. Rosen Hotels has dropped its rates at all of its resorts in Central Florida and waived pet fees and cancellation fees ahead of the storm.
Rice-Palmer said they will keep the lowered rates after the storm for first responders and power company employees doing recovery work.
“Right now, Sunday night is getting really tight," she said. "Monday and Tuesday, we currently still have availability at all the hotels. We’re probably at about 80 percent company-wide right now. But as I said, that’s gonna continue to fluctuate. We do have some conventions that are due in this weekend. I anticipate some of those will start to cancel out.”
Hotels as far away as Alabama have made similar offerings.