South Florida prepares as hurricane and pandemic converge

Shelves stocked, canals lowered and Miami-Dade parks and marinas will close Friday

Supplies are ready for shoppers ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias
Supplies are ready for shoppers ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias

HIALEAH, Fla. – Around South Florida, as then-Tropical Isaias brewed to our southeast, people continued their everyday shopping on Thursday.

The system has since been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.

While the storm might not make seasoned Floridians bat an eye, it is a good reminder that you should stock up well before a major storm approaches — especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This year it’s even more complicated by the pandemic that’s currently happening,” said Maria Brous, the director of communications for Publix.

While the supermarket chain saw a mad rush of people emptying store shelves a few months ago during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, Brous says most things are back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We have worked with our chip vendors, our water vendors that also provide soft drinks,” she said. “We have canned goods, soups, batteries, all of the things you would expect.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez urged residents to make sure they have enough food and water in their home to last at least three days, and to secure yards and any construction debris.

Items that may be running low at stores include cleaning supplies and paper products. But in terms of hurricane supplies, shelves are stocked.

“Even with the challenges of COVID-19, our inventory levels are similar to those of previous years,” said Tony Villanueva, a manager at the East Hialeah Home Depot.

Villanueva says they have plenty of generators and plywood ready for people to come pick up. He says the earlier people come in, the less of a headache it will be for everyone.

“We want to have people come in earlier really to alleviate crowds and help us control some social distancing measures as well,” he said.

Canals lowered

With Isaias likely bringing significant rainfall to our area, the South Florida Water Management District got to work lowering canals to make sure they can take in as much water as possible.

For the most part, they aren’t running pumps right now, they’re just using gravity and the tides to flush water out into the bay, which is the first line of defense for preventing flooding.

We also learned that marinas, parks and golf courses in Miami-Dade county will be closing Friday night because of the tropical storm, no word on when they will re-open at this point.

Broward County parks said they will not be closing until the state issues a mandate.

ALSO SEE: Local 10′s Hurricane Survival Guide 2020

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