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Orange County leaders urge preparedness while under tropical storm warning

County can expect powerful wind gusts

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Leaders in Orange County held a news conference Monday explaining preparations ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

As the hurricane is moving slowly across the Atlantic Ocean edging near Florida's east coast, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said people across the county should expect to feel the wind gusts Tuesday.

"The effects of the storm are expected to stay with us until Wednesday afternoon, so we have a lengthy period of time where we will likely be experiencing some effects from this storm," he said during the news conference.

The mayor announced an executive order prohibiting price gouging as people prepare for the storm. That includes retail prices for goods, materials, gas storage facilities, hotels and apartment rooms.

Demings said 150 people have decided to seek shelter at one of the locations offered by the county.

He said more than 194,000 sandbags have also been distributed to Orange County residents. People are no longer be able to fill sandbags as distribution has ceased.

Emergency management officials stressed that the county is under a tropical storm warning. The National Weather Service upgraded the county from a tropical storm watch Monday morning. 

"Which means we can expect tropical storm conditions within the next 36 hours," Keith Kotch, acting emergency operations director said. "Do not turn your back on this storm."

Kotch said the hurricane is expanding in wind field area, which means more of the inland county will be affected by tropical storm-force winds or even potentially higher wind gusts. He stressed Hurricane Dorian's slow movement means people have more time to prepare, though they may have more to prepare for.

"If you need any last minute supplies to carry through three to seven days of potential power outages," Kotch said.

County leaders have closed courts through Wednesday.

Weather forecasters say Hurricane Dorian's winds have decreased slightly, downgrading the system to a powerful Category 4 storm.