Res­i­dents are fac­ing gas and bot­tled wa­ter short­ages as hur­ri­cane aims for South Florida.

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By JAN SJOSTROM

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.

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