BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Florida officials prepared residents for the worst, as Hurricane Irma’s path was still uncertain days before it made landfall in the Sunshine State.
Brevard County Emergency Management officials on Thursday ordered more than 100,000 residents living on Merritt Island and along the coastal areas to leave their residences and condominiums and evacuate in preparation for Hurricane Irma’s arrival over the weekend.
The evacuations began Friday at 3 p.m., giving residents 24-hours to prepare ahead of Irma's anticipated arrival.
Authorities also ordered shelters across Brevard County to open Friday afternoon in anticipation of residents wanting to leave their homes, flood prone areas along the Indian River and mobile home parks for more secure locations.
A mandatory curfew started for the city of Melbourne Beach Saturday at 9 p.m. through Monday at 7 a.m. A countywide curfew is not in effect.
Brevard County on Wednesday declared a state of emergency due to the potential threat of Hurricane Irma.
Brevard County Emergency Management officials said part of the Cocoa Beach Police Department roof was ripped off as Hurricane Irma's wind bands reached the Space Coast. The Cocoa Beach mayor said no one was in the building at the time and no one was injured.
The police department worked through Hurricane Irma at the new Cocoa Beach Fire Department building nearby.
Also Sunday night, as Irma worked its way up the Gulf Coast of Florida the Cocoa Police Department emergency number went down. Residents were asked to call 321-639-7621 for non emergency calls.
Once Hurricane Irma has passed, city officials will assess the situation and decide on when a return to normal operations.
Brevard County schools will be closed Thursday and Friday until further notice, district officials said.
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office announced that they will begin distributing sandbags at no cost to Brevard residents from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, or until supplies are gone.
Each vehicle can get up to 10 sandbags, the Sheriff's Office said.
Chain of Lakes Park 2300 Truman Scarborough Way Titusville, Florida 32796
Merritt Island and Beaches
Mitchell Ellington Park 575 Hall Road Merritt Island, Florida 32953
The distribution of sandbags at Mitchell Ellington Park will be discontinued Saturday, deputies said.
Calvary Chapel Church 2852 Fellowship Place Viera, Florida 32940
Palm Bay Campus at Eastern State College, 250 Community College Pkwy, Palm Bay
Sept. 7 and 8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Club 52/Greyhound Park
1100 N. Wickham Road
Please enter at the Sarno Road entrance. Up to 10 sandbags per vehicle will be provided to those with proof that they reside within the city limits of Melbourne.
Brevard County Emergency Management officials tweeted Friday warning residents that it is illegal and dangerous to take sand from beaches.
"It leads to beach erosion, which can endanger structures and homes along the beach," officials said. "Taking sand can also disrupt sea turtle nests, which are protected through the Endangered Species Act."
Emergency officials offered residents who still needed to fill sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Irma a few alternative ideas.
If sand is unavailable, potting soil, gravel and small pebbles, cat litter and dirt from the lawn of a home may all be used to fill sandbags, according to Brevard EOC officials.
Evacuation routes and announcements
Residents and visitors are encouraged to find their evacuation zone and route by county determined by the Florida Division of Emergency management in case of evacuations.
Brevard County shelter locations
- Port St. John Community Center, 6650 Corto Road, Port St. John
- Viera Regional Community Center, 2300 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera
- Wickham Park Community Center, 2815 Leisure Way, Melbourne
- Ted Whitlock Community Center at Fred Poppe Regional Park, 1951 Malabar Rd NW, Palm Bay
- Apollo Elementary School, 3085 Knox McRae Dr., Titusville
- Imperial Estates Elementary School, 900 Imperial Estates Lane, Titusville
- Space Coast Junior/Senior High, 6150 Banyan Street, Port St John
- Walter Butler Community Center at Bernice Jackson Park, 4201 US Highway 1, Cocoa
- Manatee Elementary School, 3425 Viera Blvd., Viera
- Sherwood Elementary School, 2541 Post Road, Melbourne
- Melbourne High School, 74 Bulldog Blvd., Melbourne
- Meadowlane Intermediate Elementary, 2700 Wingate Blvd., West Melbourne
- Heritage High School 2351 Malabar Rd., Palm Bay
- Bayside High School, 1901 DeGroodt Rd. S.W. Palm Bay
- South Mainland Community Center, 3700 Allen Ave., Micco
Cancellations and closures
Chief Judge John M. Harris said Tuesday that all court proceedings in Brevard County will be canceled for Friday and Monday.
Melbourne City Hall and all non-emergency operations will be closed for regular business on Friday.