Across Brevard County residents and government agencies – from emergency management officials to lifeguards – began making the all-too-familiar preparations for the arrival of what could be Hurricane Dorian. Dorian, expected to strengthen to a hurricane later Wednesday. The storm is expected to jostle further to the northwest, possibly on a collision course with Florida as a Category 2 hurricane, according to weather officials.
At stores such as Lowe’s in Rockledge, workers have put out water and batteries along with other hurricane supplies. Along Brevard’s 72-mile coastline, lifeguards were already moving their towers back toward the dunes in expectation of some beach erosion typically seen with hurricanes.
Preparations are also underway at Kennedy Space Center where workers moved a massive crawler-transporter 2 near Launch Pad 39B in case officials decide to move the mobile launcher back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Scorpion Marine at Port Canaveral also is preparing the yard and anticipates pulling boats from the water and blocking them starting Thursday morning.
And in Rockledge, at the headquarters for Brevard County’s Emergency Management Office, officials were busy with conference calls with the county’s municipalities and the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center to pin down Dorian’s movements.
“They’re trying to see what this storm is going to do and making sure all the proper players know and are involved in the process. We’re just making sure everyone is on board,” said Don Walker, spokesman for Brevard County.
“(Emergency management officials) also met this morning to discuss transportation issues and shelters. It’s nothing that we’re putting into place but it’s all just in case of what we might have to do,” Walker said of the internal meetings. The Brevard County EOC is currently at Level 3 which is normal operations.
Walker said the emergency management officials will give Brevard County residents at least a 24-hour notice before any evacuation orders are given. Residents also will be given information about area shelters. “We will give people ample notice, but have an idea now of where you might go,” Walker said.
Monitoring the Storm
Wednesday, authorities had not made any arrangements regarding the issuing of sandbags — typically handed out to help residents protect against flooding. Brevard County Public Schools also were monitoring the storm.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne is also monitoring Tropical Storm Dorian as it approaches Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The storm — which so far, is tracking a little more to the east and avoiding land — will push through the islands and is expected to intensify into a hurricane as it moves across the warm waters of the Bahamas. With a lower shear and warmer water, “the conditions will be favorable for it to intensify,” said Matt Volkmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne.
“The current track has it moving close to the Florida peninsula either Sunday afternoon or Sunday night. People should start making some preparations over the next day or two, maybe stock up on some extra water and canned food. As it gets closer to Florida, then we could see some swells and conditions will start deteriorating,” he said.
The storm could impact Florida late Sunday or on Labor Day, just three months into the hurricane season. Walker said residents should be making plans either way. “A lot of people are probably preparing for Labor Day weekend but we’re hoping the people are getting prepared for any potential storm as they need to be. That includes whether they have plenty of water or non-perishables. If you prepare, you shouldn’t be panicking.”