Florida National Guard prepares for Hurricane Matthew
BROWARD REMAINS VIGILANT
8:55 p.m.: Broward County Emergency Operations Center will remain at Level 1 activation with about 300 government workers throughout the county, Mayor Marty Kiar announced at an 8 p.m. press conference.
There have been no reports of significant damage.
“We are assessing the situation,” Kiar said. “The conditions out there seem very good.”
Broward officials continue to urge residents to stay off the roads since they could still experience tropical storm force winds Thursday night t which can lead to unsafe situations.
The county has not yet announced specifically when Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will reopen or bus service will resume, but both are likely Friday.
FPL said about 9,000 residents had power restored while 5,000 others remain without power in Broward.
No additional press conferences are planned for Broward tonight.
— AMY SHERMAN
GARBAGE PICK-UP TO RESUME
8:45 p.m.: The City of Miami said Thursday night it would resume garbage pick-up and recycling collection at 6 a.m. Friday.
— DAVID SMILEY
IN CORAL GABLES
8:05 p.m.: Most services are returning to regular operations in Coral Gables Friday. Among them:
Garbage, trash and recycling collection services will resume normal hours Friday.
Park facilities will reopen Friday at regular operating hours. The War Memorial Youth Center will reopen at noon Friday.
The Coral Gables Trolley service will resume its normal schedule Friday.
The City of Coral Gables Emergency Services will continue operations.
— LANCE DIXON
7:10 p.m.: The city of Hialeah will pick up bulk trash and recycling on Friday and Saturday as soon as gusts drop below 39 miles per hour and will resume regular trash pickup on Monday.
Construction and maintenance, parks, fleet, streets and public works departments go back to work Friday at 7 a.m. to assess damage and cleanup.
— DAVID J. NEAL
BROWARD REMAINING CAUTIOUS
7:05 p.m.: Broward Mayor Marty Kiar wasn’t ready to give any all clear signal shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday.
“Broward County is still in danger of tropical storm force winds until midnight tonight,” he said. “We are still asking people to stay in their homes, still hunker down until the conditions are safe for everybody to come out.”
Kiar said he hadn’t heard of any damage reports so far.
“We are in good shape — so many of our residents took it seriously,” he said. However, he still expressed caution. “The National Weather Service indicated anything could happen over the next couple of hours, it could shift to the west. ...We are being optimistically cautious.”
— AMY SHERMAN
WORST OVER BY MIDNIGHT IN MIAMI-DADE
6:50 p.m.: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced shortly after 6 p.m. that the county was winding down its storm response and would begin returning services to normal on Friday morning.
"We were lucky this time," Gimenez said. "But we know we haven't always been lucky in the past."
Some operations will return to normal, including:
▪ Metrorail and Metromover are set to resume operations at 6 a.m., followed by the county's bus system at 7 a.m.
▪ The county's four hurricane shelters plan to shut down at 8 a.m. Friday.
▪ On Friday morning, the county will resume pick-up of bulky waste. Recycling will be picked up Saturday and Sunday to compensate for a lost pick-up on Thursday, a county spokesman said.
▪ County-run bridges will resume regular opening schedules at 6 a.m. Port Miami is also expected to reopen Friday morning; county marinas plan to reopen at 10 a.m.
But county offices will remain closed Friday, as will Miami-Dade parks, libraries and its animal shelter.
On Wednesday, Gimenez instructed non-essential county employees to stay home both Thursday and Friday — a move that matched the closure decision by the county's school system.
"At the time, we thought tropical storm winds would be here longer," Gimenez said. "The great news for Miami-Dade County is the worst of the storm will be over by midnight."
Gimenez's press conference at the county's emergency-operations center in Doral capped a three-day media marathon that saw regular briefings (often accompanied by a phalanx of other elected officials) before local television cameras. Gimenez announced the center would lower its alert status at 8 p.m., a move that brings reduced staffing. "We don't anticipate having any more press conferences about this storm," said Gimenez.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
CANALS NOT EXPECTED TO FLOOD
5:45 p.m.: South Florida Water Management District officials said Thursday that they have completed efforts to drain canal water in preparation for the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Matthew and are confident they have mitigated the risk of floods.
"Right now, the system is positioned more than adequately enough to handle the current rainfall amounts,'' said John Mitnik, chief engineer for the water management district.
The district has been draining canal water out to sea since last weekend , he said.
The district has also inspected its flood control system and pump stations and has staff positioned to adjust water levels as needed.
Mitnik said that rainfall is expected to be heaviest north of Palm Beach County along I-95, and the forecast calls for amounts of between eight to 10 inches in Martin and St. Lucie Counties by Friday afternoon. Miami Dade and Broward will see only about one to two inches, he said.
Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, said in a press release that an inspection of the Herbert Hoover dike found no new issues. The corps will begin its emergency evacuation plan if lake water rises and threatens the stability of the 30-foot-tall barrier.
Gov. Rick Scott said late Thursday in an interview with CNN that "right now, we feel confident that the dike can hold."
— MARY ELLEN KLAS
4:00 p.m.: Roughly 7,400 properties were without power after 3 p.m. in Miami-Dade, according to a Florida Power and Light spokeswoman. Throughout Thursday, some 17,000 customers lost electricity but almost 10,000 of the outages were restored.
Company spokeswoman Aletha Player said the for-profit utility has about 12,000 employees deployed statewide to deal with damage from Hurricane Matthew, and that repair crews go out when winds drop below 35 mph.
While FPL has restored the majority of Miami-Dade’s outages as Matthew advances, Player said she sees more difficult hours ahead. In a press conference at the county’s emergency-operations center in Doral, she alluded to what’s sure to be an overwhelming amount of outages from Matthew throughout Florida’s east coast.
“We’d like to thank our customers in advance for their patience for what we know will be challenging times for all of us,” she said.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
3:45 p.m.: As if Florida homeowners didn’t have enough to worry about with a monster storm barreling toward its coast, the head of one of the nation’s largest insurance rating companies warned Thursday that Florida’s homeowner’s insurance market is on uncertain footing.
“Hurricane Matthew will test Florida’s previously untested homeowner specialist insurers if there are significantly sizable losses,” said Christopher Grimes, Director in Insurance at Fitch Ratings in a press release. “With heavy reliance on reinsurance in the Florida property insurance market, traditional and collateralized reinsurance and catastrophe bond markets could also see substantial losses.”
— MARY ELLEN KLAS
FICUS TO BLAME FOR EARLY POWER OUTAGE
3:30 p.m.: Some Miami Shores residents found themselves without power much earlier than expected due to a large ficus tree from the Miami Shores Golf Course being uprooted very early Tuesday afternoon.
Dr. Charles Southerland, who lives across from the golf course along NE 101st St. in Miami Shores, says the huge tree came crashing down around 1p.m., taking with it the power lines for his whole block.
— EMILY MICHOT
GOV. SCOTT WARNING
3:20 p.m.: “My biggest concern is people aren’t taking this seriously enough,’’ warned Gov. Rick Scott at his third hurricane briefing of the day from St. John’s County Thursday. “I don’t want people to lose their life.”
Scott said Martin County officials have asked 17,000 people to leave the coast and barrier islands in that county but many have decided to stay.
“If you think someone is making a bad decisions, call them,’’ Scott said. “Be a pain in the rear. Pester them to get out and evacuate.”
Once people see the enormity of the storm once it makes landfall, the governor said, those who haven’t evacuated are likely to decide they want to leave but, he warned, it may be too late.
“There’s a lot of people that have never been through this and are still waiting to evacuate,’’ he said. “If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out now...We should not be putting lives at risk because you made the foolish decision not to evacuate.”
In addition to seeking supplies of food, water and tarps from the federal government, Scott said he has asked for additional generators and pumps to help with flooding.
He echoed the warning already sent by Florida Power & Light. “If you’re on the east coast you’re going to lose power,” he said. “We’’re going to have a lot of power outages and it’s not going to come back on in one day.”
Scott repeated his warning that hotels are filling up west of the coast and said that Airbnb was partnering with the state to offer free shelter to people who were evacuating. He also urged people to go to FloridaEvacuates.com, or download the app of the same name, and find the shelter sites that are available in their area.
“I know you don’t want to sit in a shelter, nobody does,” he said, “but it might be the safest place.”
— MARY ELLEN KLAS
3:15 p.m.: The hurricane has been a puzzlement to tourists who came to South Florida for vacation and found themselves trapped in the path of a major storm without much idea what to do about it. Mike Simms, who with his wife and two friends flew in to spend a few days at the beach before setting out on a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean, said his first clue that something was up was when other guests and even employees began ransacking the ice machines at his Deerfield Beach motel on Wednesday.
Warned to stock up on supplies — his room has a microwave and a refrigerator —Simms discovered all the nearby grocery stories were already sold out of — well, everything. “No bottled water, no bread...Soon after I got there I noticed fewer and fewer things in people’s carts,” he said.
“The reason we came early is my friend wanted to do some fishin the Keys and the girls wanted to go through the shops there and siightsee,” said Simms, who lives in Stow, Ohio, near Akron. “Well, that was immediately off the table, and things went downhill from there.”
— GLENN GARVIN
ROADS CLOSED IN BROWARD
3:00 p.m.: Broward County has closed all roads as of 3 p.m., but law enforcement will not ticket drivers for being on the road, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
“If you go outside and the wind becomes 50, 60, 70 mph and the roads become impenetrable it’s harder for us to do our job,” Israel said at a 2 p.m. press conference at the Broward Emergency Operations Center in Plantation.
— AMY SHERMAN
EATING UP A STORM
3:00 p.m.: Matthew made business winners out of the few Miami Beach Alton Road food establishments that chose to stay open Thursday.
With all the Starbucks closed, Dunkin’ Donuts at 16th and Alton saw steady traffic. In the same strip mall, Pizza Hut was packed as well as Halves & Wholes.
Staying open until 3 p.m. while Fresh Market and all three Publixes closed at noon provided Epicure a throwback Thursday to the days of one Publix and no Fresh Market.
Nine of Pinecrest Bakery and Cafe’s 11 tables were filled and the line stayed two to three deep. Asked if it’s constantly been this busy at the 24-hour restaurant throughout Thursday, bouncy manager Didier Milian partially raised his hands and made the universal facial expression for fatigue.
“I’m exhausted,” Milian said during a pause in hustling among kitchen to counter to cleaning tables. “I’ve been here since 3 a.m.”
Jacaranda Italian restaurant in Plantation is well-situated for a storm: it is blocks away from the Broward County Emergency Operations Center.
The restaurant has supplied the center with pasta, salad and an eggplant dish.
As for residential customers, the restaurant is doing a brisk takeout business today: customers have ordered about 150 pizzas between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“Notstop busy, busy, busy,” said manager Giuseppe Mannino.
— DAVID J. NEAL AND AMY SHERMAN
ON THE ROADS
2:50 p.m.: Traffic on westbound I-10 out of Jacksonville has slowed as people evacuate northeast Florida, said Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott. Traffic is still flowing, but officials with Florida Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation, as well as additional Road Rangers, have been deployed to keep traffic moving and alleviate bottle-necking where they can, she said.
The gas station in the middle of Alligator Alley temporarily ran out of fuel. Department of Transportation officials were notified and brought in more fuel, so the problem was quickly resolved, Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
IN THE HOSPITALS
2:40 p.m: As forecasts showed Matthew making landfall on the coast of Central Florida early Friday morning, hospitals in the storm’s projected path began to evacuate patients on Thursday.
The Florida Department of Health reported that six hospitals in the region had evacuated patients, including Health First Cape Canaveral Hospital, a 150-bed facility in Cocoa Beach; Florida Hospital Oceanside, an 80-bed center in Ormond Beach; Florida Hospital New Smyrna, a 116-bed hospital in New Smyrna Beach; Baptist Medical Center Beaches, a 146-bed hospital in Jacksonville Beach; Baptist Medical Center Nassau, a 62-bed hospital in Fernandina Beach; and Wuesthoff Medical Center, a 298-bed hospital in Rockledge.
Mara Gambineri, a health department spokeswoman, could not immediately provide information about the number of patients evacuated for the storm, or where they were transferred.
AT MIAMI-DADE SHELTERS
2:30 p.m.: More than 600 people are in four storm shelters opened throughout Miami-Dade, according to the latest count. The busiest: Booker T. Washington Senior High in Overtown, with about 300 people.
Only one of the shelters accepts pets — that’s the Darwin Fuchs Pavilion in the Youth Fair complex. The latest count from there was 36 people, six dogs, two cats and three parakeets.
FPL has pre-deployed 1,400 workers for Broward County alone. About 4,150 have lost power in Broward so far. FP&L will work on restoring power as long as winds are less than 35 miles per hour.
— MONIQUE O. MADAN AND AMY SHERMAN
DESIGN DISTRICT, WYNWOOD DESERTED
2:00 p.m.: Two of Miami’s hotspots were deserted at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
In the Design District, the luxurious shopping district for some of the world’s most expensive fashion brands, sandbags were piled against the doors of Dior, Burberry and Tiffany’s, while muzak echoed over an empty courtyard.
There were blocks of parking along Northwest Second Avenue, the Wynwood Art District’s main drag. Three friends from Greenville, South Carolina; Luca Gioia, 22, Ryan DeMattia, 25, and Cameron Ohls, 22, who’d flown in Wednesday evening for the III Points music festival, were snapping photos of street murals in the drizzle and enjoying having the area to themselves.
“We just had a private tour of Wynwood Walls!” DeMattia said. “Last year we had to wait in line to get in.”
Six of their friends were driving down for the festival from Greenville after their Thursday morning flight was canceled. “Yeah, they’re driving inland, trying to stay away from the coast,” said DeMattia. “We’ve been planning this for months. They said this would be like the craziest hurricane party ever!”
Also wandering Wynwood were Skip Van Cel and Danny Giannuzi, who’d come in search of a restaurant instead of the cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli and Vienna sausages that Giannuzi, who lives nearby, had stocked for the storm. They said they hadn’t worried too much about Matthew, especially Van Cel, who’s lived in Miami since 1963 and had vivid memories of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“Andrew was gonna miss us until like 24 or 36 hours before, and then it was like oh, no,” Van Cel said. But he was reassured by the relaxed attitude of Max Mayfield, a meteorologist with WPLG Ch. 10 who was the voice of calm when he was director of the National Hurricane Center. “I wasn’t threatened by this,” Van Cel said. “When I saw Max Mayfield wasn’t panicking, I said I’m not panicking.”
— JORDAN LEVIN
OUT OF MIAMI BEACH
1: 35 p.m.: Just before wind and rain began to whip the northern swath of Miami Beach, Danny Hawk and Adele Mesa worked quickly to put up hurricane shutters on Hawk’s gym.
“Mother Nature is always ready to to some reclamation,” he said, sighing as he stood underneath the sign for his gym on 71st Street on Normandy Isle.
Further down 71st, David Sexton wrapped up preparations at Painting with a Twist. Besides shutters, he had concrete poured at the back of his business Wednesday to prevent flooding. After a brief but heavy thunderstorm Monday night, he already had some water enter the studio.
Even though the full force of the storm isn’t expected in Miami-Dade, he’d rather be cautious.
“You never know,” he said. Others weren’t so careful.
Despite closure of the beach itself, people donned windbreakers, walked out on the sand and held up their cellphones to take pictures and video of the violent waves.
One intrepid soul was out in the water -- a kitesurfer being carried south along the shore by the accelerating wind.
Within minutes, right around noon, the sky quickly darkened before opening up, dumping the first dose of rain and wind gusts that sent the beachgoers scurrying for cover. One shirtless jogger clenched his teeth and kept running against underneath swaying palm trees and blackened sky.
As a band of thick, nasty weather passed over the area, water began to pool at storm drains in North Beach, North Bay Village and the Upper East Side of Miami on the mainland.
— JOEY FLECHAS
FPL WARNS CUSTOMERS
1: 30 p.m.: Florida Power & Light, Florida’s largest electric utility, sent customers a grim warning Thursday, saying that as many as 2.5 million customers in Central and North Florida are expected to lose power as Category 4 winds from Hurricane Matthew pummel the east coast, forcing the company to “rebuild parts of its electric system” before power is restored.
“Depending upon Matthew’s ultimate path and intensity, damage to our electrical infrastructure will be extensive,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL in a press release. “The impacts of this storm will far exceed the design standards of not just the FPL system, but much of the design standards of homes and buildings throughout the region.”
The company said that it is anticipating “a significant and challenging restoration effort along parts of Florida’s east coast.” Silagy said the company has lined up assistance from employees and workers from other utility companies and has” a workforce of more than 15,000 ready to respond.”
But the company warned that “flooding, fallen structures, debris and other obstacles also can affect the speed of power restoration.”
The company’s message to customers to lower expectations comes in the wake of complaints in Tallahassee last month, when Category 1 winds from Hurricane Hermine downed trees and powerlines and interrupted to much of the capital city. It took the city’s municipally-owned power company between two days to a week to have electricity restored to all homes and businesses.
FPL said it will assign workers to “operate bucket trucks and restore service in between bands of severe weather, as long as winds are below 35 mph and conditions are safe.”
The company is now better prepared to handle the storm than it was in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma cut power to parts ofBroward County for as much as two weeks.
After the seven storms that pummeled Florida in 2004 and 2005, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission ordered FPL and the state’s other investor-owned utilities to develop storm hardening plans.
FPL said Thursday it has invested more than $2 billion since 2006 “to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid that will allow us to restore power much faster than ever before.”
“That said, there will be outages as no utility is hurricane-proof, especially when facing a powerful storm such as Matthew,” the release said.
The company said that as a result of “lessons learned from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy” it has installed real-time flood monitors at 223 substations substations in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Lee counties to help them prevent transmission interruptions caused by flooding.
For more information, the company urges customers to go to fpl.com.
— MARY ELLEN KLAS
MATTHEW NEAR MIAMI
1 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center fixed the center of Hurricane Matthew at latitude 25.5 — that put it almost due east of the City of Miami, which lies at 25.7.
— CURTIS MORGAN
SPACE COAST HURRICANE HISTORY
1: 19 p.m.: In Brevard, the county government website says an urban legend persists that the federal government placed its space program at Cape Canaveral because the Space Coast is geographically protected from major hurricanes.
It’s not true. But the area has been largely spared from devastating storms and direct strikes from hurricanes as powerful or as dangerous as Matthew.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne warned Thursday that the approaching storm is the “strongest hurricane to affect this area in decades,” and that wind damage could leave some areas uninhabitable for weeks. Bryan Norcross, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel who grew up in Melbourne, said on Facebook that “there is nothing in the record book even close.”
“To be clear, if this storm stays toward the left side of the National Hurricane Center cone and comes ashore over East Central Florida, this will be the worst hurricane ever recorded in that part of the state,” he wrote.
Though the Space Coast has dealt with tropical storms over the last decade, it hasn’t felt the impact of a hurricane since Frances and Jeanne landed in St. Lucie County in 2004. Brevard County’s website mentions Hurricane Erin, which made landfall as a category 1 at Vero Beach in 1995, as perhaps the last hurricane to directly strike the area.
— DAVID SMILEY
SELFIES ON PALM BEACH
12:31 p.m.: By midday, wind gusts began to pick up and waves started to churn.
But that did not keep people away. Small groups of onlookers took selfies on the beach and at least two swimmers plunged into the intensifying ocean for a dip.
“I think the are going to hurt themselves,” 8-year-old Murphie Ockunzzi said of the swimmers.
She and her mother were among the curious beachgoers.
“I wanted to come down and see the ocean as the storm is rolling in, feel the breeze,” said Murphie’s mother Leslie Ockunzzie, 44, who has gone through four other storms.
She said her biggest concern was losing electricity. Hurricane Frances left her without power for three weeks.
“Florida in October without A/C is unbearable,” she said.
— NANCY SAN MARTIN
PARKING, KENDALL STYLE
12:01 p.m.: Given the preponderance of black olive trees in the Snapper Village community off Sunset Drive in Kendall, one smart resident found a lone hill of grass — South Florida’s version of a hill, anyway — that was far enough away from trees to park a car. During Wilma and Katrina many of the black olives fell across cars, crushing them.
Some residents failed to heed association orders to not put out trash bins after the county canceled trash pick-up services on Thursday.
As hurricane-weather hovered, officials told residents that the bins can act as projectiles in the parking lot if winds in the Category 4 storm make it to Southwest Miami-Dade in this neighborhood parallel to the turnpike off 117th Avenue.
FROM THE BEACHES OF MELBOURNE
11: 42 a.m.: The winds had begun to kick up but the sun still peeked out over dozens of locals who came to see the frothing sea.
“We wanted to see the beach before it all goes away,” said David Weinstein, 58, a retired Navy sailor who lives on the barrier island but is staying in a hotel on the mainland.
Some wanted to appreciate the raw beauty before retreating home. Local college student, Jian Ma, 24, snapped shots with his digital camera of the birds frolicking in the rising surf. “This is frightening - and exciting,” Ma said.
Most of the gawkers took selfies as a TV camera crew took their shots. One woman had a iPhone strapped to her baseball cap to better take video. A few dipped in the stirring waters, while others scooped up sand for sandbags.
Nearby, the Starbucks, Coldstone Creamery and pizza joint were closed for business. The beach was under a mandatory evacuation, but that wasn’t stopping barrier-island residents from staying put.
Gary Scannelli, 58, boarded up his town home three blocks from the beach, where he plans to stay with his wife and two Chihuahuas. A New Jersey transplant, this is his first hurricane and his neighbors assured him their block would survive. They stocked up on water and boxed wine.
“It seems to be easier than leaving. Hotels are booked all the way through Tampa,” he said.
— DAVID OVALLE
CORAL GABLES GEARS UP
11: 40 a.m.: The leafy residential streets on the north side of Coral Gables were dotted with joggers and young parents pushing baby carriages on Wednesday morning, all trying to work in a last bit of exercise before locking down in the face of the storm.
Others battened down the hatches, sometimes, in a very un-Gables-ish way, the windows of one home were completely swathed in cardboard.
But the ordinary weekday thrum of the Miracle Mile shopping district had descended to an eerie silence. Except for a handful of street-construction crews, the street was deserted. The single would-be shopper: a young boy leaning against the picture window of a Barnes & Noble bookstore, his longing gaze fixed on a display of Harry Potter novels inside the darkened store.
Major thoroughfares like LeJeune and Douglas avenues, at 10 a.m., were much quieter than usual but by no means empty as drivers raced toward their hurricane strongholds. The western stretches of Southwest 8th Street were an odd patchwork, blocks and blocks of the desolation of closed doors and shuttered windows alternating with throbbing niches of commercial activity where a few stores remained open.
The parking lot of an open Walmart was packed to Black Friday doorbuster-sale proportions. A few blocks away, a single lonely clerk manned the front counter of a pawnshop, while an insurance company lobby was full of last-minute customers racing in after better-safe-than-sorry epiphanies.
Many gas stations were deserted, their empty pumps cordeoned off with the yellow tape ordinarily spotted at crime scenes. But a surprising number remained open to customers filling not only the tanks of their vehicles but motley collections of gas cans, probably to fill up their generators.
News radio station WIOD opened its 10 a.m. show with the mordant strains of an old Doors record, “Riders On The Storm.”
— GLENN GARVIN
AT MIAMI-DADE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS
11:22 a.m.: Local, state and federal officials stressed to the public that even if Miami-Dade County doesn’t feel the direct impact of Hurricane Matthew, residents should still be ready for the worst.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez along with U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera gave an update at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Doral and said that as the storm grows stronger, people should not take it lightly.
“This is a serious storm. The track is not a perfect science, a small variation can make a huge difference in outcomes,” Lopez-Cantera said.
Curbelo and Lopez-Cantera both said that Gov. Rick Scott reached out to President Barack Obama for an emergency declaration for Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and all east coast counties and said that FEMA has been contacted.
“We know that local governments have invested significant resources to prepare for this storm and we want to make sure that the federal government becomes a partner to these efforts as soon as possible,” Curbelo said.
Mayor Gimenez said there’s a more than 80 percent chance of Miami-Dade experiencing tropical storm force winds. Marinas closed at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, the Port of Miami is closed along with transit operations.
Bulk trash pickup was expected to stop at noon Thursday. Miami International Airport remained open Thursday morning but had more than 600 cancellations by the 9 a.m. advisory.
“It’s a good day to stay at home, enjoy your family and wait out the storm,” Gimenez said.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said that about 1,000 police officers are on the streets today and working along with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to assist residents. Those officers will continue to patrol until the storm’s winds reach 55 mph.
“We ask the residents of Miami-Dade to only call in the cases of emergency. We don’t want to have to be responding to minor calls and reports of incidents that can wait until after the storm passes so we’re all safe,” Perez said.
— LANCE DIXON
11:20 A.M.: Broward expects heavy winds to begin in the early afternoon with hurricane force winds starting around 6 or 7 p.m. said Broward Sheriff Office Fire Chief Joseph Fernandez.
“Stay in doors -- hazardous conditions will come very soon,” he said during a 10 a.m. press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Plantation.
There is an 80 percent chance of sustained tropical force winds and 25 percent chance of sustained hurricane force winds in Broward.
Broward had a peak of 2,200 people in the general population shelters last night and about 1,900 this morning.
In the past 24 hours, emergency rooms have seen an uptick in minor injuries from installing panels or other hurricane preparation.
BSO Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said at 8 p.m. Wednesday, a 33-year-old man who was on a ladder installing shutters fell about 20 feet and broke his legs. He was airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center.
Also on Wednesday, a 56-year-old Weston man had minor hand and hip injuries when he was taking shutters out of the garage and they fell on him. Neighbors were able to remove the shutters from on top of the man. BSO took him to the Cleveland clinic.
IN THE BROWARD EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
10:45: a.m.: Think that the Broward Emergency Operations Center would be the coolest, most comfortable building to await the storm? Think again.
At about 7 a.m., the air conditioning went out in the center in Plantation. It took the contractors a couple of hours to get to the center and work on the AC is underway.
A lizard was found in a chiller but Kiar would not pin the blame with certainty on the animal.
“It was a gecko — that was not necessarily the reason the AC went down,” Kiar said.
The rest of the equipment —such as computers — are fully functional so the lack of AC doesn’t affect the ability of the county to help the public, Kiar said.
The EOC is the main building where about 300 workers from the county and cities prepare for and respond to the storm.
— AMY SHERMAN
IN THE HURRICANE SHELTERS
10:30 a.m.: Well before the doors opened at this Fort Lauderdale shelter, the crowd had gathered Wednesday night.
They were the first to arrive, toting suitcases, pillows and bags of prescription medication.
They mostly live on the eastside in Hurricane Matthew’s possible path. Some were homeless with no other place to go, others living in homes that didn’t have the right protections.
“I am homeless. There is no way I can ride out a Category 3 or 4 outside,” said Ken Roberts, 59, who came to Fort Lauderdale from Asheville, North Carolina, last year. “I would not make it.”
Roberts, an Army veteran, accepted a ride from a police officer to the Arthur Ashe Middle School/Rock Island Elementary school, now serving as a shelter.
With Matthew hours away, about 565 have registered at the shelter with a capacity of 1,300 at the schools combined. The shelter accommodates people in gyms, classrooms and other spaces.
“When they enter the door, they now have a place to lay or sit or stand safely,” said Randy Mayweather, a Red Cross shelter manager.
Janice Wilson, 53, listened to the news reports and knew she had to leave the house where she was staying with friends. She had arrived in Florida from New York in 1992, just days before Hurricane Andrew roared through South Florida — and she was in a labor pool that helped clean up the devastation wrought by the storm. She knew.
“So, I know what this is like,” she said Thursday morning as she organized a bag of crocheted items she sells to make a living. “I am not scared, but I want to be safe.”
— AUDRA D.S BURCH
COUNTY GARBAGE AND POLICE SERVICES
10:10 a.m.: Miami-Dade Solid Waste is suspending its services today. They urge residents to remove bins from the street and secure them.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said his staff is now on Alpha Bravo, meaning all patrol officers are working 12 hour shifts. They generally stop covering the streets when the winds hit 40 miles per hour. But they will run out to scenes on an as-needed basis, in emergency.
ON THE STREETS OF NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE
9:45 a.m.: It was eerily quiet Thursday morning along the eastern corridor of Miami--Dade County. Few cars were on the road and most stores along its main roadway, Biscayne Boulevard, were closed.
But other than that, there were few signs that a major storm was chugging along just off the coast.
From downtown Miami, through Belle Meade and Morningside and up to Aventura, very few homes and businesses were shuttered. Some stores were open, mainly drug and liquor and grocery stores and gas stations. Otherwise, people seemed to be taking advantage of a day off work.
Mothers pushed babies in strollers, joggers jogged and walkers walked. People played with their pets. Bay walks like Margaret Pace Park and one in Miami Shores were filled, some sitting on benches watching the bay’s waters churn.
Alex Macedo, a 40-year-old tech worker was tossing coconuts to Mel, his 9-year-old golden retriever. Mel, though, was having none of it and wouldn’t budge.
Macedo, who works from home, said Thursday could actually be busier than usual if clients experience problems as the storm passes. Macedo lives in a condo overlooking the park. No shutters on his condo.
“I’m not scared. Not here,” he said. “I think if you’re up north you should be concerned.”
Up north along a bay walk in Miami Shores was a similar scene.
Parents pushed strollers and walked with pets. Some sat and watched the choppy water and gray skies.
Eli Bru-Garcia and her 65-year-old father Jaime Bru, as they do every morning, were jogging.
“I’m checking the weather, but we have no fear,” said Bru-Garcia. “We bought water.”
AT MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
9:10 a.m.: About 90 percent of the arriving and deeparting flights at Miami International Airport have been canceled Thursday, about 90 percent of the schedule. Other flights are scheduled until noon, when most airlines will suspend operations, according to the airport, which will not close. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward is set to shut down at 10:30 a.m.
ON SOUTH BEACH
8:45 p.m.: No mimosa-sipping on chaise longues on the sands of South Beach on Thursday morning. No rows of sunbrellas. No lockers. As nature approached, the beach looked about as back to its natural visual state as can be, save shuttered lifeguard stands.
The morning early storm winds whipped the sands into a fusillade that assaulted bare ankles. Not that there were many of those in the 7 a.m. hour — a power-walking couple, two buried treasure hunters, a resident who loves her morning ocean walks, a curious tourist or two.
No such problems for Joe Cross, covered Achilles to shoulders in a wet suit as he searched the beach with a metal detector.
The winds make “things a little more exciting for us,” chuckled Cross, who got his first detector in 1976. “Imagine a field being plowed.”
He’d been out in the water around 3 a.m., “but, now, it’s getting a little silly.”
—DAVID J. NEAL
ALONG U.S. 1 in NORTH MIAMI-DADE
4 a.m.: All of the high-priced Lamborghinis and other imported sports cars were removed from a North Miami-area car dealer, Prestige Imports, leaving an eerie vacant lot glowing under high-powered lights. But the parking lots of two area strip clubs were packed, along with those of motels across from Miami International Airport. Early morning traffic also flowed easily around the airport, where many flights were canceled Thursday.