With Florida in system’s path, Flagler County adjusts storm shelter plans due to COVID-19

NHC: Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 remains on path to Florida


FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – With Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine -- which could soon become Tropical Storm Isaias -- on a path toward Florida, Flagler County officials are urging residents to prepare for possible dangerous weather in the coming days.

According to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the system could reach tropical storm strength by Wednesday night.

Officials with Flagler County’s Emergency Operation Center said Wednesday that residents’ storm plans will likely look different this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

[UPDATES: System expected to become Isaias on path toward Florida]

The NHC said after passing south of Puerto Rico Wednesday night, the system is expected to head near or over Hispaniola on Thursday before approaching the northwestern Bahamas and southern Florida Friday night.

The latest track shows Florida in the center of the system’s cone.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that he’s monitoring the potential tropical cyclone “very closely,” but that it’s still too soon to tell exactly if and how the system will impact the Sunshine State.

Regardless of further development, DeSantis encouraged Floridians to prepare now by stocking up on food, water, medication and any other necessary supplies.

Leaders in Flagler County echoed those thoughts Wednesday, asking residents not to panic but to instead prepare.

“We don’t want anyone to panic, but there is a lot of uncertainty with the forecast for this storm. Anytime there is a tropical system approaching, it is a good idea for residents to ensure they have an ample supply of non-perishable food and bottled water – especially as we approach the peak of hurricane season,” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord. “It’s also a good time to clean up lawn debris, and solidify your destination options should your neighborhood be ordered to evacuate.”

[FLAGLER COUNTY HURRICANE SEASON GUIDE: Everything residents need to know before a storm]

Emergency officials recommend residents gather seven days’ worth of supplies and test all flashlights and radios to make sure they have enough time to replace old batteries if they need to.

Details about other items to include in a disaster supply kit, as well as evacuation zone information, and the Flagler County Disaster Preparedness Guide, can be found here.

Also ahead of possible bad weather, county officials announced changes to their storm shelter plans due to coronavirus concerns.

“In light of COVID-19, Flagler County and its emergency preparedness partners have taken additional steps to protect residents that may be unable to make alternative arrangements and need to seek public shelter in the event of an evacuation order,” officials said in a news release Wednesday.

Flagler County shelters will have separate areas for those who know they have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the virus, according to EOC officials.

All evacuees will be required to wear face coverings and will have their temperature checked upon entry and daily during their stay, according to the release. In another effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, shelter capacities and movement within the shelters will now be more restrictive than in previous years, officials said.

For all the latest updates on the system in the tropics and how to prepare for a storm, visit ClickOrlando.com/hurricane.

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