PLANTATION, Fla. – A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for Broward County residents living east of Federal Highway and in low-lying areas effective Thursday.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said Wednesday that 14 shelters will open Thursday at noon. She said all county operations will close at the end of the day and will remain closed on Thursday and Friday.
The evacuations have been ordered ahead of Hurricane Irma.
"It's stronger than what we've anticipated in the past, and it's better for us to be safe than sorry," Sharief said.
Those who choose to go to shelters are asked to bring items to make themselves comfortable, including bedding, snacks, water and their medications.
Officials said people should have enough food to last for three to five days.
Those using generators are asked to keep the generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas.
Sheriff Scott Israel said deputies won't be going door to door checking to see if residents in the evacuation zones have left.
"Although this storm is deadly, this is going to be Broward County's finest hour," he said.
Sharief said the South Florida Water Management District is working to lower canals ahead of the storm.
Crews will also be staging heavy equipment Wednesday at various locations throughout the county to allow crews to clear roads of debris immediately after the storm.
Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport remain open at this time, but passengers are advised to check with their airline or cruise line for possible delays or cancellations.
Broward County Transit will also operate on its normal schedule until service is suspended due to tropical storm-force winds.
Click here to view a list of open shelters in Broward County. All pets must be registered online before they are taken to a pet-friendly shelter.
Residents are asked to notify Florida Power & Light of any power outages by calling 800-468-8243 or visiting FPL.com.