Aug. 31 (UPI) — South Florida counties in line to receive a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian plan to open shelters beginning Sunday, county officials and Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.
Dorian, a powerful Category 3 storm as of Friday, is projected to strengthen further before making landfall somewhere along Florida’s southeast coast — as far south as Miami and as far north as Brevard County. It’s then expected to make a northward turn, hitting much of the Florida coast.
Landfall is projected to take place late Monday or early Tuesday.
To prepare, Palm Beach county officials say they plan to open shelters sometime Sunday, though a specific time hasn’t been determined. Martin County, just to the north, also will open six shelters Sunday. Broward and Miami-Dade counties, to the south haven’t made decisions yet.
No counties have issued any evacuation orders days before Dorian’s expected arrival.
Palm Beach County officials warned that if evacuation orders are issued, residents should try to evacuate locally or to hotels before resorting to shelters. DeSantis cautioned people against evacuating to other cities hundreds of miles to the north along Interstate 95.
“We know this storm is coming in a westerly direction. We know it’ll eventually turn north,” he said during a visit to the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center. “We don’t really know where it’s going to turn precisely. You could end up even driving into the storm if you take that route.”
DeSantis encouraged Floridians to be stocked with enough food and water for seven days, and prepare for power outages.
He said communities that flooded during 2017’s Hurricane Irma are likely to experience flooding again because of the slow-moving nature of the storm.