Florida residents picked the shelves clean of bottled water and lined up at gas stations Thursday as an increasingly menacing-looking Hurricane Dorian threatens to slam the entire state.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle, as well as storm experts, are urging residents to evacuate if they can.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. warned: “Everybody’s got to take this very seriously. This is about your survival — your life.”
The second hurricane of the 2019 season is swirling towards the U.S., with forecasters warning it will draw energy from the warm, open waters as it closes in.
Scott, the former governor of Florida, understandably has experience preparing an entire state for hurricanes. He told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that seasoned Floridians who’ve lived through weaker hurricanes in the past can tend to feel a little brave.
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Scott begged residents not to make that mistake this time around.
“… everybody says ‘oh, I’ve gone through a category 2, oh, I’ve gone through a category 3.’ What you don’t think about is this storm surge and the amount of rain.”
Scott referenced how Hurricane Michael took millions of Florida residents by surprise in October of 2018.
“What we saw in Michael,” he said, “is the number of people that lost their lives because they said, ‘oh, it’s only a category 1 or a category 2.'”
It so far seems that Floridians have gotten the message.
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Along Florida’s east coast, local governments began distributing sandbags, shoppers rushed to stock up on food, plywood and other emergency supplies at supermarkets and hardware stores, and motorists topped off their tanks and filled gasoline cans. Some fuel shortages were reported in the Cape Canaveral area.
Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section and store employees unsure of when more cases would arrive.
“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she said. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”
Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs waited well over 30 minutes in line at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Hialeah to buy hurricane supplies. Some 50 vehicles were bumper-to-bumper, waiting to fill up at the store’s 12 gas pumps.
“You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad. You just have to be prepared,” she said.
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The National Hurricane Center downgraded the hurricane to a category 3 as recently as 5 a.m. with winds of nearly 120 mph.
The National Hurricane Center’s projected track had the storm blowing ashore midway along the Florida peninsula, southeast of Orlando and well north of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. But because of the difficulty of predicting its course this far ahead, the “cone of uncertainty” covered nearly the entire state.
Jeff Byard, an associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned that Dorian is likely to “create a lot of havoc with infrastructure, power and roads,” but gave assurances FEMA is prepared to handle it, even though the Trump administration is shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from FEMA and other agencies to deal with immigration at the Mexican border.
The Associated Press contributed to this article