BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Melbourne resident Don Marrufo hopped out of bed at 5 a.m. Sunday to prep his home for Isaias, which had been forecast to potentially strike Cape Canaveral as a Category 1 landfalling hurricane.
Instead, Isaias weakened to a tropical storm overnight — and slowed to a crawl off the South Florida coastline.
"Made breakfast — cinnamon rolls — instead. And swept the floor," Marrufo said, smiling.
"Typical Florida. Unexpected weather," he said.
Marrufo and his fiancée, Verlaine Tipton, took their chiweenie, Zeus, on a beach walk about 9 a.m. Sunday at popular Paradise Beach Park near Indialantic. Isaias’ threat was apparent: Only 16 people were on the sand from the lifeguard shack southward, as far as the eye could see, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
Diana Martinez-Toraya of Eau Gallie was the lone surfer from 8 to 9 a.m. at Paradise Beach Park. She said she rode 2- to 5-foot waves until she ran out of energy — “my arms and legs feel like noodles.”
"Very nice. Water was perfect. No sharks. The breeze is wonderful. I don't know why people aren't swimming and enjoying this day," Martinez-Toraya said. "Everybody has been so scared about the storm. I think we should embrace the storm and go out and surf. Life is too short."
To the south, two Orlando television station trucks were parked Sunday morning in downtown Indialantic near the intersection of State Road A1A and Fifth Avenue. Only a smattering of businesses sported shutters along the Fifth Avenue commercial corridor.
Joggers and walkers traversed the Melbourne Causeway, and fishermen gathered near relief bridges and shoreline parking areas. Picnickers enjoyed morning meals at Paradise Beach Park and Douglas Park in Indialantic.
Jeff Baker moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Indialantic three weeks ago. He visited Paradise Beach Park on Sunday morning, sitting at a dune crossover watching waves roll in under breezy, overcast skies.
“This is my first experience with a tropical storm or a hurricane-type scenario. It’s impressive,” Baker said. “Seeing the change on the beach from even three days ago, it’s very cool to check out. It’s starting to get more rough. It’s impressive, just seeing the force of the waves.”
Baker prepped for Isaias by buying bottled water and a week's worth of groceries. As a contingency plan, he said he can stay with friends in Ormond Beach or Jacksonville.
Following her annual custom, Palm Bay resident Claudia Lima dropped by Paradise Beach Park to celebrate her 20th birthday. She was accompanied by friend Judy Philpott, who also lives in Palm Bay.
“This doesn’t faze me,” Lima said of Isaias. “I always come to the beach on my birthday. And it was really pretty this morning, despite not being able to see the sunrise.”