FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A hurricane was coming, but it didn’t look or sound like it in South Florida.
Few people, it seemed, pulled out their electric drills and dusted off their hurricane shutters in preparation for Hurricane Isaias, the ninth tropical storm and second hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Even in Palm Beach County, expected to be hit hardest in South Florida, people didn’t appear worried about the hurricane projected to come ashore overnight Saturday as a Category 1 storm.
“When its Category 3 storm and up, that’s when it gets sketchy,” said Morgan Coppini who instead of spending the morning stockpiling water and boarding up windows, sat on a wooden bench and watched the roiling seas.
At mobile home and manufactured home communities in Palm Beach County, only handfuls of homeowners shuttered their windows.
Cricket Alley wasn’t one of them, but she also wasn’t worried.
Born in coastal Florida, Cricket Allie said she was taught to be prepared and so she set about getting hurricane-ready.
“A lot of people who don’t pay the price,” Allie said.
Saturday morning, Allie’s grandson Justin Allie put the hurricane shutters on his grandmother’s manufactured home in southern Lake Worth.
Cricket Allie has lived at Holt’s Lazyland off 12th Avenue South for two-and-a-half years. She said her newer manufactured home should have no problem with a Category 1 hurricane, but she worried about all the nearby fifth-wheel campers at Holt’s Lazyland.
Allie said she intended to stay put in her home though she’d certainly evacuate her community if the storm was a Category 3 or higher.
Others weren’t taking chances.
Jay Kelley was finishing the last touches to secure his mother’s mobile home in the tiny town of Briny Breezes on Saturday morning.
His mother, he said, would be evacuating to Lake Worth Beach while he would stay nearby in his home, which is not a mobile home.
Briny Breezes, north of Delray Beach, comprises some 490 mobile homes packed into a few blocks along the ocean. All of the homes along the ocean frontage road were secured with hurricane shutters Saturday.
Palm Beach County had not ordered a mandatory evacuation, though those living in mobile homes were encouraged to pack up and go.
Because of concerns about the spread of COVID-119, county officials were encouraging those who live in mobile homes or homes that may be unable to withstand hurricane force winds to seek shelter with family, friends or co-workers.
“We don’t want to crowd the shelters too much,” said Nicole Ferris, a spokeswoman for the county.
As a last resort, the county opened four general population shelters as well as a special needs shelter and a single shelter that allows for pets. By 1 p.m. Saturday, when it was still a mostly cloudless and pleasant day, 80 people had already sought shelter at Palm Beach Central High School. The school can accommodate 1,286 people and still abide by social distancing guidelines, Ferris said.
Four other shelters saw much fewer people — 46 combined — while the sixth shelter, a pet friendly one, had no one by 1 p.m. Saturday.
Government leaders in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties all said they were monitoring the storm closely, and they implored residents to be prepared. But much of life continued normally Saturday while South Florida waited for Isaias.
Broward County had not opened shelters, and the only evacuations ordered were the limited recommendations in Palm Beach County. Parks and some beaches were closed, but buses in Broward County were following normal schedules, as were Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport. They said practices might change if the weather got worse.
Most activity Saturday involved surfers thrilled as the impending storm produced 4-foot waves. As a handful of people rode the waves, a large crowd that had been standing near the surf raced to clear seaweed and other beach debris from the beach as a crew of just-hatched sea turtles scampered down the beach to get to the roiling sea.
Though knowing the turtles’ journey may be difficult, Christina Logan, of Delray Beach, said she was glad the turtles were getting a start ahead of the impending storm.
Logan said she wasn’t personally concerned about the hurricane.
“I’m not the nervous type and it doesn’t feel like it is going to be bad,” she said.
In case it does get bad, Florida Power & Light said it has a crew of 10,000 ready to respond. The power giant also has beefed up its workforce by bringing in 100 people from its sister company Gulf Power and has secured close to 3,000 more crew members.
In addition to expected power outages, Isaias is expected to bring heavy rain ranging from 2 to 4 inches across Broward County. Officials expect urban and street flooding, especially in low-lying and flood prone areas. A storm surge of 2 feet or less in Broward County could produce possible flooding in coastal areas and other areas vulnerable to surge.
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