Island busi­nesses, or­ga­ni­za­tions pre­pare for ar­rival of hur­rri­cane

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By DAR­RELL HOFHEINZ, JAN SJOSTROM AND EL­LIOTT WEN­ZLER

It might get a lit­tle soggy in­side The So­ci­ety of the Four Arts’ Gio­conda and Joseph King Li­brary if Hur­ri­cane Irma dumps buck­ets of rain on the con­struc­tion site.

The roof tiles of the 1938 Mau­rice Fa­tio-de­signed orig­i­nal build­ing have been re­moved dur­ing the li­brary’s ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion. But as the in­te­rior has been pretty well stripped, there’s not much there to get wet, Four Arts staff said.

“If a hur­ri­cane had to hit, this is the best time in the con­struc­tion process for that to take place,” said Ron Min­nicks, direc­tor of fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment.

Con­trac­tor Con­kling & Lewis Con­struc­tion has cleared the site of any­thing that could be­come a pro­jec­tile and equip­ment that will re­main on site has been se­cured, said Katie Ed­wards, direc­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and de­vel­op­ment.

At the Nor­ton Mu­seum, where its ex­pan­sion is well un­der way, con­trac­tor Gil­bane Build­ing Co. has spent the last cou­ple days bat­ten­ing down the con­struc­tion site, Nor­ton com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec- tor Scott Be­narde said Wed­nes­day.

The Nor­ton, which has re­mained open dur­ing con­struc­tion, has se­cured the build­ing. Art that’s not in the gal­leries is in stor­age on the third floor. A small staff will re­main on site dur­ing the storm to pro­tect the art.

Gas ship­ment ar­rives

Many driv­ers who hoped to fill up their gas tanks in Palm Beach were out of luck tem­porar­ily Wed­nes­day in ad­vance of a pos­si­ble Florida land­fall by Hur­ri­cane Irma.

The island’s sole gas sta­tion, Gray’s Sunoco on 340 S. County Road, ran out of gas about 7:45 a.m.; the sta­tion was out of fuel un­til a new ship­ment ar­rived at around 3 p.m. The sta­tion closes at 6 p.m. today.

A long line of cars awaited their turn at the pump.

Boats leave town docks

Only 15 boats re­mained in the 83-slip town docks Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

“We’ve reached out to all own­ers and ad­vised them to leave,” Re­cre­ation Direc­tor Beth Zikar said. “It’s re­ally up to them. They must find other lo­ca­tions for their boats.”

The town won’t force own­ers to re­move their boats, but “if they choose to stay, they will be re­spon­si­ble for any dam­age to their ves­sels,” she said.

Art ship­per mo­bi­lizes to pro­tect valu­ables

Fine-art ship­per Gan­der & White’s Palm Beach of­fice was rush­ing this week to pro­tect cus­tomers’ valu­ables.

“We are very busy,” direc­tor of op­er­a­tions Gilles de Grel­ing said Tues­day. “We’ve had a lot of re­quests since the week­end.”

The com­pany was con­cen­trat­ing on as­sist­ing ex­ist­ing clients in Palm Beach and Mi­ami. With a staff of 20 and lim­ited on-site stor­age, “we can’t prom­ise peo­ple we’ll storm in and do ev­ery­thing for them, so we help them mit­i­gate their ex­po­sure,” de Grel­ing said.

De­pend­ing on the client, that could mean ship­ping out the most valu­able ob­jects, putting them in a safer place on site, pro­vid­ing crates and pack­ing ma­te­ri­als or trans­port­ing them to its stor­age fa­cil­ity in West Palm Beach.

An­i­mal hospi­tal busy

At Island An­i­mal Hospi­tal near Publix, the re­cep­tion desk was busy Tues­day sell­ing spe­cialty pet food to own­ers who were stock­ing up in ad- vance of the storm. The staff also was pro­cess­ing an un­usu­ally high num­ber of travel-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments — con­firm­ing that pets’ im­mu­niza­tions are up to date — for own­ers who plan to fly out of town with their an­i­mals.

Worth Av­enue stores start mak­ing plans

Matthew Raptis of Raptis Rare Books said the store, which has $15 mil­lion worth of mer­chan­dise, has a plan in place in case of flood­ing. The shop has hur­ri­cane win­dows, sand­bags, and an air­tight vault that can keep the most valu­able mer­chan­dise safe, he said. The own­ers also have a backup place to store in­ven­tory, if needed.

Stephane Spor­touch of 55 Croisette planned prayer as part of his hur­ri­cane prepa­ra­tions. He also planned to put down sand­bags and move mer­chan­dise higher in the store, but the res­i­dent said he doesn’t plan to evac­u­ate. All his mer­chan­dise is in the store now so if he loses it to a flood, he will lose ev­ery­thing. “We have to be very lucky,” he said.

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