PREPARATION FOR IRMA
Residents are facing gas and bottled water shortages as hurricane aims for South Florida.
The Publix Super Market still was out of bottled water Thursday morning as Hurricane Irma aimed at the Florida coast.
That was bad news for West Palm Beach resident Clarence Blackmon, who’d been to five stores already and come up empty-handed. What did he plan to do next? “Keep looking,” he said. He has no bottled water at home.
Pat Weeks’ grocery cart was full of goodies such as wine and bacon as she stood in line. She has adequate supplies at home, she said. “I’ve been buying for a week,” she said. “We eat it up and have to come back and replenish.”
She and her son, Brian Weeks, live in a high rise on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach with hurricane-impact windows. She’s on the 13th floor and he’s on the 12th. “We feel pretty safe,” he said. “But we’re concerned.”
Shortly before noon Thursday, the town issued a mandatory evacuation for the island. Everyone was to be out by 5 p.m. Friday.
Gas was available and lines were short at Gray’s Sunoco on Thursday morning. But only premium gasoline was available for $3.59 cash or $3.66 credit per gallon.
Once the current supply runs out, the station does not expect another fuel delivery, according to workers at the station.
TooJays deli in the Royal Poinciana Plaza planned to close at 2 p.m. Friday. The restaurant hopes to reopen for lunch Tuesday, if storm damage permits.
As for the food, “we will try to sell what we can till we close,” general manager Chasity Allen said. “Then we put as much as we can in the deep freeze.”
Thermometers monitor the temperature inside the freezer. “Once it goes below a certain temperature, we have to throw it out,” Allen said.
Business was good until a couple of days ago. “Having the bridge (Flagler Bridge) fixed helped,” she said. “We’re getting ready to remodel in October to get a nice face lift inside.”
Of course, if Irma does the facelift, it could take some time to put the restaurant back in order, she said.
At the Flagler Museum, workers were preparing to connect FPL’s power to a generator brought in on a flatbed truck parked outside the museum. If the power goes out, the generator automatically switches on, said Bill Fallacaro, facilities manager.
Next door, a worker on a crane was securing shutters to the Palm Beach Towers’ windows.
The sun was beaming down on the beach by Brazilian Avenue, where lifeguards supervisor Craig Pollock was overseeing the removal of town lifeguard stations from the sand to the grass beside the sidewalk. The stations, the largest of which weigh 4,300 pounds, will be tied to nearby palm trees and weighted down with sandbags.
They’re more aerodynamically designed than the ones that blew away in Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Pollock said.
Why bother to move them such a short distance?
To get them away from the water, he said. “Waves are stronger than wind,” he added.
Publix had a good supply of groceries, but was cleaned out of bottled water Thursday morning.