Island businesses, organizations prepare for arrival of hurrricane
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.