A drive through Cocoa Beach on Saturday afternoon demonstrated a literal calm before the storm, with only a handful of houses and even fewer businesses displaying boarded-up windows while hundreds gathered at local beaches.
Tropical Storm Isaias, downgraded from a hurricane in the 5 p.m. National Hurricane Center update, was projected to at least swipe the Florida coast by Saturday night, leaving local governments on alert but not worried enough to utilize more urgent emergency protocols. In Brevard County, no evacuations had been ordered and shelters remained closed even as officials issued a hurricane warning. The storm was expected to regain hurricane strength as it approached Florida.
The relative lack of concern was reflected among residents, who took advantage of the cloudless sky and bearable weather to spend the day at the beach and local restaurants, many without wearing masks.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that serious,” said Matthew Tracey, who went to the beach with a group of friends.
But that didn’t mean everyone took no precautions. While supermarket parking lots didn’t look as busy as any other regular business day, cases of water were selling quickly. The Banana River Square Publix still had cases of water for sale, though shelves of that and other beverages were nearly bare.
Other non-perishables also went fast as shoppers looked to stock up on supplies in case the worst projections came true.
“You can’t be too careful,” shopper Grace Joyce said.
Brevard County hasn’t been hit by sustained hurricane-force winds in 40 years, according to Florida Today, the last time during Hurricane David in 1979. Since then, only tropical storm sustained winds have hit within county borders.
In Volusia County, hundreds of Florida Power & Light trucks were being stationed at Daytona International Speedway. Set up as a processing center, trucks and personnel were gearing up for possible power outages caused by Isaias throughout the area.
But in nearby Daytona Beach, a similar scene to the one at Cocoa Beach played out, with hundreds more enjoying the beach: A calm before the storm as if it were just another day.
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.