Palm Beach County opens shelters in wake of Isaias’ impact

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner issued a late-afternoon reminder for residents to remain vigilant.

“It will start to get worse before it gets better,” said Kerner. “We hope that the storm doesn’t strengthen as it moves through the coastal waters of Florida.”

Officials also announced a voluntary evacuation order.

“For Zone A. For mobile homes, sub standard homes, for homes in flood prone areas,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing the voluntary evacuation order for the county.

As of Saturday evening, 165 people were in the county’s shelters. Classrooms were being used to socially distance households. At the animals-only shelter, there were 15 dogs, 7 cats and one bird being housed.

A special needs shelter was also open for people vulnerable to COVID-19, higher risk individuals, where 23 people of the total 165 residents were being tended to by shelter staff.

Residents can arrive at any time to the shelters through Sunday. However, officials said to not wait until the last minute when winds increase.

On the closed beaches of Palm Beach County’s ocean ridge, kite surfers harnessed wind gusts as they rode their boards along choppy waves crashing along a near-empty shoreline.

"We will see what the wind does, what the swells doing," said kitesurfer Jay Kavanaugh. "Before it gets too crazy, we try to get a few hours in."

About a mile up the coast, a boater and personal watercraft driver were seen heading out to sea.

At waterfront dining spot Two Georges, afternoon diners enjoyed the warm sun and cool breeze, which at times picked up a bit.

“Right now we are just trying to keep up with the news,” said Steve Scaggs, General Manager at Two Georges. “We have done some breakdown, it’s a little bit safer in case there are any tropical storm force winds.”

Some diners took a breezy view of the approaching storm.

“This was only a Category 1, so I wasn’t to nervous about it to begin with,” Judy Ringersen said.

“When you live in Florida all these years, they don’t bother you,” Cecila Bailey said.

Palm Beach County opens shelters

Palm Beach County opened four general population shelters and a pet friendly shelter for animals only for residents that reside in Evacuation Zone A. The shelters opened at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Evacuation Zone A is for residents living in a manufactured/mobile home or sub-standard housing.

Palm Beach County has contacted all Special Needs Shelter clients to inquire on their need to be sheltered at the South Florida Fairgrounds facility.

The four general population shelters are:

  • Lake Shore Middle School: 425 W Canal St. N, Belle Glade
  • Palm Beach Gardens High School: 4245 Holly Dr., Palm Beach Gardens
  • Palm Beach Central High School: 8499 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington
  • Park Vista High School: 7900 Jog Rd., Lake Worth
  • Animals only shelter for residents sheltering at Park Vista High School - West Boynton Recreation Center: 6000 Northtree Blvd., Lake Worth

Shelters will be setup to accommodate social distancing. Families will not have more space, but spaces between families will be larger. Residents should be prepared to take their own cleaning items such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces.

Officials said residents are strongly urged to shelter in place if safe to do so. It is safer at home. Those utilizing designated shelters will be screened, temperatures taken and required to wear facial coverings. Facial coverings are required for everyone over the age of 2.

The Emergency Information Center, (561) 712-6400, is staffed 24 hours per day to answer with questions regarding sheltering and hurricane preparedness.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."