Orange County prepared to handle both hurricane and pandemic, mayor assures

Mayor Jerry Demings: 84% of county hotels are open with plenty of room open

A sandbag fill station in Orange County, Fla. (WKMG 2020)

ORLANDO, Fla. – With Hurricane Isaias slated to brush up against Florida’s east coast this weekend, Orange County emergency management officials are preparing the area to prevent flooding but do not plan to open hurricane shelters as of Friday afternoon.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings assured the community the county can handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic along with an impending hurricane.

“Orange County has a capacity to really deal with both. We have some of the most experienced crisis managers anywhere. And so I have utmost confidence in the team of individuals that deal with whatever the storm may bring in the midst of a pandemic,” Demings said.

The mayor said if residents would like to shelter in area hotels, about 84% of lodging options are open in Orange County with about 60% of rooms available.

In anticipation of heavy rainfall, storm water management operation teams were checking storm water drains, canals, ponds and areas in the county prone to flooding.

Demings said the teams were specifically checking pump stations near areas around Lake Nally in Gotha, along with Orlo Vista and Westside Manor neighborhoods.

“Lake Nally in the Gotha area, always seems to be an area that is more prone to flooding, but I want the residents who live around the Gotha and Lake Nally area to know that we, too, are concerned and we have been proactive in trying to address that,” Demings said.

Residents can continue to pick up free sandbags until 8 p.m. Saturday at five locations around the county: Barnett Park, Bithlo Community Park, Downey Park, Meadow Woods Park and West Orange Recreational Complex.

Here’s where you can get free sandbags in Central Florida.

Orange County Public Safety Director Danny Banks said the county began prepping for hurricane season early this year because of COVID-19. If shelters need to open, there will be precautions in place to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Banks.

Banks encouraged residents with special needs to register with the county by calling 311 in case a special needs shelter is activated.

For more information on how to prepare for the storm and updates on its track, visit

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