Orange County leaders urge residents to pivot to preparation as Nicole nears Florida

City of Orlando under State of Emergency

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings speaks at a news conference on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings on Wednesday held a news conference to discuss the county’s preparations and storm readiness, now faced with Hurricane Nicole.

Demings was joined at the event — held in the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Winter Park — by a collection of fellow leaders and representatives. Those standing with Demings included Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Office of Emergency Management Chief Lauraleigh Avery and Orange County Public Schools representative Scott Howat, among others.

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Dyer and Demings suggested county residents pivot from Hurricane Ian recovery to preparing for Nicole, expected to impact Florida overnight possibly as a Category 1 hurricane. Demings described a forecast including up to 8 inches of rain in some areas, as well as wind gusts expected to peak at 35-75 mph anywhere from midnight to 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Thursday.

“We could expect the tropical storm-force winds to cause flying debris, trees down and power lines down which may create the potential for dangerous or life-threatening conditions within our community,” Demings said. “We ask that, again, you take the storm very seriously during this period of time.”

As the county remains under a tropical storm warning at time of writing, as well as a flood watch that encompasses all of east Central Florida, Demings also spoke of the risk for tornado threats overnight.

Orlando is now under a state of emergency, as was declared Tuesday due to the storm’s anticipated impacts, Dyer said. At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dyer said the city’s Emergency Operations Center would go to Level One Full Activation.

Additionally, Dyer said a Citizens Information Line would activate at 6 p.m., reachable by calling 407-246-HELP (4357).

Mayor Dyer said the city would open the following three parking garages to passenger vehicles for free in order to shelter them from Nicole on Thursday.

  • Central Boulevard Garage - 53 W Central Blvd.
  • Jefferson Street Garage - 62 W Jefferson Street
  • Library Garage - 112 E Central Blvd.

Dyer added any passenger vehicles kept in those garages for the storm should be gone by 12 p.m. Friday, depending on the weather at the time.

Read more on the City of Orlando’s Nicole resource page.

Orange County has currently established two general population shelters for the storm, located at the South Econ Recreation Center at South Econ Community Park and at the West Orange Recreation Center, Demings said. For county residents with special needs, Demings encouraged them to call 311, after which the county should make arrangements to assist them.

“As of this afternoon, we have 26 persons who have checked in to the shelters. We also remind everyone going into the shelter to bring your own personal supplies such as toiletries, medications and blankets,” Demings said.

Howat discussed Orange County schools, saying district schools would remain closed Thursday and Friday. For Friday however, Howat said all 12-month employees would be required to come to their respective schools to help make damage assessments.

All FHSAA football playoff games were rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, and no extracurricular activities nor any extended day programs would be held Wednesday, Howat said.

Orange County schools should reopen for normal operations by Monday, Nov. 14, pending damage review, Howat said.

In an update to its storm information hub Wednesday, the county said that no curbside garbage, recycling or yard waste collections — including large item service — would take place on Thursday, Nov. 10, for residents of unincorporated county households. For residents acclimated to Thursday collections, the county said they would occur Friday, adding that Friday customers would be serviced Saturday.

Demings asked that no materials be placed curbside before Thursday. Dyer said that residents with debris already on the curb should make their best effort to tie it down or otherwise prevent the debris from flowing into storm drains.

Additionally, the Orange County Landfill and its transfer stations closed at or before 3 p.m. Wednesday and will remain closed through Thursday. These facilities will reopen when it is safe to do so, according to the county.

Orange County Government buildings closed at 3 p.m. Wednesday to reopen Friday, Demings said, adding the property appraiser’s office would remain closed through the weekend and the county comptroller’s office would reopen Friday. In Orlando, Dyer said all non-essential city offices, including City Hall, would be closed Thursday, extending to parks, neighborhood centers and sports programs. Solid waste services, too, are to be suspended Thursday in Orlando, Dyer said.

Leaders urged county residents to limit water usage and ease the pressure put on Florida’s water table, still labored after Hurricane Ian.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.