Central Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma

'People are more cautious now after seeing what happened in Houston,' woman says

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - When a big storm is about to hit, Marcelino Garcia stocks up early.

"Looking at the speed of the winds, you know you still want to be cautious. That's a part of the living in Florida. Really, you just have to live with the undetectable," said Garcia.

Garcia added a little extra to his cart this time around as the thoughts of Harvey are still very fresh on his mind.

"People are more cautious now after seeing what happened in Houston. I think people had a wake-up call with that one," said Garcia.

Peggy Kuhle is the operations manager at Home Depot on Colonial Drive.

She has been with the company for close to 30 years.

She's seen her share of hurricanes and prep that go along with them.

This time around, maybe because of Harvey, she's seeing more people filter through the doors and stock up on supplies.

"Today, water, I had 15 pallets to start out. I probably sold like five or six of them already. So, we keep putting them back down. We're making sure that the tarps are down on the shelf," said Kuhle.

Hurricane Irma, she says seems to have struck an urgent chord with people and the store is ready.

"If it gets serious and it gets close then we put up the storm tables and we have information on how to track the storm and what supplies you would need," said Kuhle.

Alan Harris with Seminole County emergency management was on a conference call Monday morning with officials across the state to discuss prep actions.

They have discussed evacuations, shelters and where they can draw help.

"A lot of organizations have sent crews out to Texas so the volunteers that are here are starting to come back now, but there has been some concern about some sheltering and things like that. So, we're looking at those type of issues," said Harris.

Those talks will continue until we are in the all-clear.

Irma's direct path is still unknown, but officials want people to take action now.

"We're encouraging people to prepare early part of the week. Supplies are limited already because a lot of the supplies have gone out to Harvey in Texas," said Harris. "Now is the time if you have a medical need, if you're on oxygen or require electricity and medical devices go ahead and get registered with your local emergency manager's office. That's important before the storm."

Harris says the county has shelters that will allow pets.

He says other counties are working to secure pet-friendly shelters as well.

Hurricane Matthew's remnants are also a concern as Irma moves through the Atlantic.

"We're also dealing with some Matthew cleanup issues along the coast as well as along the St. John's River here for Seminole County, so we're monitoring those issues as well," said Harris.

The one thing Matthew and Harvey have brought that can be seen as a silver lining, Harris says, is knowledge.
"The one thing that it did do for us is it fine-tuned some of our procedures. Harvey also did that too. So, we have already started to change things based on the response of Matthew and the response of Harvey," said Harris.

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