Hurricane Irma is a certainty for South Florida, expected to make landfall somewhere in the state Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane. That may be days away but lots of things are happening as residents prepare. We’ll keep you posted as to what’s going on, Thursday, Sept. 7.
Here’s what we know so far:
Delray Beach said their city-wide curfew will begin 2 a.m. Saturday, a day before the storm.
West Palm Beach said their curfew begins 8 a.m. Saturday with people off the streets until at least Monday at 8 a.m.
Evacuations: Thursday evening, Palm Beach County is ordering a mandatory evacuation for parts of the Glades, adding an additional 32,000 residents who must leave their homes before Irma hits this weekend.
The concern is wind, not water, according to officials. The county said they will be looking for additional shelters and trasnportation for people to get out of The Glades.
Earlier this afternoon, the county ordered evacuations for 123,000 residents in Zone A and Zone B, which is all mobile homes, low-lying areas and the barrier islands, effective 10 a.m. Friday.
Additionally, a voluntary evacuation was issued for Zone C. those homes closes to Loxahatchee River and Intracoastal waterway. In Zone C, there are 138,000 residents.
Manalapan and South Palm Beach have ordered mandatory evacuations of their residents to be completed by Friday at 5 p.m.
Shortly before noon, the town of Palm Beach issued a mandatory evacuation for the entire island shortly. Everyone must be off the island by 5 p.m. Friday.
According to Palm Beach Shores police, Gov. Rick Scott ordered an evacuation of barrier islands, including Palm Beach Shores, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. The storm surge in the town is expected to be five to ten feet, the police chief said, “and frankly if we lose power, the island is not a fun place to be.”
Though the Royal Palm Beach mayor said the number one question he’s been asked is if residents need to evacuate the area, Royal Palm, Wellington, Loxahatchee Groves and The Acreage are NOT in evacuation zones.
In Martin County, Hutchinson and Jupiter islands are under a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, as are the town of Sewall’s Point, mobile homes and homes in low-lying areas.
Palm Beach County officials will make an announcment on evacuations this afternoon. They are likely for the barrier islands and areas prone to storm surge.
13 PBC shelters open 10 a.m. Friday
So, following the “shelter in your county” advice, Palm Beach County will open the 13 public schools that have been designated shelters. These shelters will be stocked with food and do have generators, but bring water, change of clothes, medicine, batteries, snacks, special diet required foods, cash, important documents, games for your stay. Register here if you need to shelter with your pet - that specialty shelter is in Boynton Beach.
The county needs volunteers at shelters. Call 561-712-6737 or call the United Way Volunteer Hotline at 561-375-6621.
Need a hotel room?
Discover The Palm Beaches has a spreadsheet for that. It includes contact information, availability, fees and pet policies for hotels in the county.
Gov. Scott: Evacuate now
In a noon hearing at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center, Gov. Rick Scott warned Irma could bring deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds to the state's east coast. Scott pointed to Hurricane Andrew, saying Irma is "much worse and more devastating on its current path."
"If you are told to evacuate do not wait," Scott said
His office has been working with fuel companies and suppliers as well as federal agencies “to get as much fuel as possible into our state and through our ports.” He asked gas stations to stay open as long as possible and encouraged customers to take only as much fuel as they need, especially if they are staying in the county. More about Gov. Scott’s day here.
Florida Highway Patrol is providing escorts to fuel trucks across FL to ensure supplies are quickly refilled. pic.twitter.com/X4J2aS0PgU— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 7, 2017
Hurricane Irma update
2 p.m.: The “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Irma is heading toward Turks and Caicos with 175 mph winds.
It’s still a big storm with a path of uncertainy that envelops almost all of Florida. The forecast changed little from the the Hurricane Center’s earlier updates today which had the center of Irma just southwest of Palm Beach County at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Your Publix will be closed by noon Saturday
So will all Publix stores in South Florida. Check out the specific closing times HERE.
Florida’s Turnpike is busy, and the shoulders too crowded
Highway troopers report that as drivers head up the Turnpike in evacuation mode, some cars are breaking down and drivers are leaving them roadside. It’s getting too crowded and officials say they now plan to tow any vehicle abandoned on that highway. There are extra troopers, road rangers and wreckers working the roadway. Call *FHP if you need help.
Trying to hop a plane out of town?
Palm Beach International Airport is open. So are Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Miami International airports, but all are seeing some cancellations - as many as 96 flights in and out of Miami today - due to Hurricane Irma. Check with your carrier for details.
At each of those airports American Airlines will stop services by Friday afternoon.
The last American Airlines flight to leave Miami will be the 3:49 p.m. flight to Dallas/Fort Worth.
The last flight out Fort Lauderdale Airport will be Friday at 7:45 p.m., according to spokesman Greg Meyer.
As far as parking, Meyer said there is only uncovered parking available at the airport right now other than valet parking which is expected to be filled by Thursday night. In Miami, the parking garage is at capacity and officals are asking those with flights to find another way to get to the airport.
Delray Beach’s trolley is running
The city's trolley will be running Thursday & Friday until 7:00 pm. Trolley services will be suspended after Friday until further notice. pic.twitter.com/8LADXXmZ3o— City of Delray Beach (@citydelraybeach) September 7, 2017
But as of Friday Tri-Rail is not
The lines are already forming
But gas is available in some spots still:
At 7 a.m.: Gas is availalbe for cars only - no gas cans - at the Florida Turnpike service plazas.
Same is true for the WaWa on Belvedere Road near the Palm Beach International Airport. And the West Palm Beach Sunoco at Dixie Hwy and Southern Blvd has gas this morning. The tanker refilled about 7 a.m.
At 7 a.m.: An orderly, and seated, queue had formed at the Home Depot on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. Residents there were waiting for the store to get a fresh supply of plywood.
By 9 a.m. The line was gone, but so too was most of the plywood.
Later, a line of cars formed some six-deep, as “customers who’d waited for plywood rolled carts of the holy hurricane grail out of the store and lugged it into the truck beds.
“The store was busy but navigable but the plywood aisle looked like the water aisle at every Publix – bare, “ reports Tony Doris.
School is out today through Monday
Gov. Rick Scott ordered all K-12 schools, state colleges and universities be closed through Monday following Irma’s anticipated landfall.
Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College also closed today and Friday. FAU residents halls and dining halls will remain open to students.
Rubio, others are trying to allay immigrants’ fears about sheltering
When you don’t want to park at your house - or your dealership
A local car dealership is parking 100 vehicles at the garage at the Palm Beach International Airport. ““They will be treated like a customer,” said airports director Bruce Pelly. “We aren’t giving them a special deal.” You can park there too - at your own risk and charged at “the going rate”. Your car can shelter there, you cannot, he said.
Your car is also not welcome overnight during the storm at the Palm Beach Outlets Mall or the Boynton Beach Mall.
CityPlace is charging $10 a night to park there, but you can park for free at West Palm Beach’s five city garages. Just don’t park on the roof.
You (won’t?) have mail
In the Florida Keys, the U.S. Postal Service is suspending Priority Mail Express and live animal shipments in The Keys. (Yes, live animal shipments. I didn’t know this was a thing. But that’s another story.)
Feel the need for retail therapy?
Do it now. Palm Beach Outlets and the Mall at Wellington Green are closing today at 5 p.m. The Gardens Mall is closing at 2 p.m. today, though department stores may stay open later, like the Sears at the Gardens Mall, which will be open and selling emergency supplies through tomorrow. Most malls in the region say they’ll close when or shortly after weather warnings go up. The Boynton Beach Mall will be closed by 5 p.m. today.
Got friends or family in the islands?
AT&T is offering to credit customers’ bills from Wednesday through Sunday for calls and/or texts between the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos. Same for their Cricket Wireless service in Dominican Republic and Haiti beginning today.