Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Erika to give the answers all South Floridians want to know.

“We’re looking at another two days or so before we really have a handle on what the impacts here might be,” said James Franklin, Chief of Forecast Operations at the Center.

But experts and the Governor say that doesn’t mean you should wait to buy your supplies in case the storm hits here – and above all, they urge vigilance.

“Stay up with what’s going on. Follow the local news. Listen to your local elected officials. Stay prepared,” warned Gov. Rick Scott.

The key point to remember is everyone should have a plan and stay informed.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is advising residents along the coasts of Florida to prepare for the possible impact of Erika.

“Now is the time for Floridians to ensure their financial documents are secure and that they know their family’s evacuation plan,” said CFO Atwater. “Whether you’re new to Florida or a lifetime resident, we have tools available to help your family prepare for the next hurricane on the horizon. As Floridians, we’ve come to realize that the threat of a storm is not an ‘if’ but a ‘when.’”

Consumers are encouraged to review their homeowners’, renters’, or property insurance policy to ensure they understand their coverage. Review the Department’s Homeowners’ Insurance Toolkit for help understanding coverage. It is important to note that many insurance companies cease binding new or additional homeowners’, renters’ or property insurance coverage if the National Weather Service issues a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning for any part of Florida. If this occurs, insurance coverage cannot be purchased until 72 hours after the last watch or warning has been issued. Please be aware of scam artists offering to sell or increase insurance coverage as a storm approaches or during a storm.

Take time to organize your financial and insurance information and keep several copies in easily accessible and safe places.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is monitoring the situation. He’ll have to decide whether to shutdown schools.

“We’ll be using mass media to communicate with parents particularly as we go into the weekend when the potential impact of the storm will be felt,” he said.

In Miami Beach, city officials have large generators on standby ready to keep the pumping stations pumping, even if Erika knocks out the power.

Crews are scrambling to bring two more pumps online, two months ahead of schedule to combat flooding that could happen as a result of the storm, and the highest tides of the month.

“We know what we’re doing works so we can bring significant mitigation of the flooding in the neighborhoods where we are completing work,” Miami Beach Public Works Director Eric Carpenter told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

But Miami Beach’s already flood-prone streets are expected to be underwater again this weekend.

“I just don’t want anyone to think that because we have a little bit of flooding this time, that the system is not working, it’s that we’re still building the system.”

In North Miami Beach, crews are clearing out storm drains, to do whatever is possible to lessen flooding.

“Just even a plastic bag over (the drain), creates such a….there’s no infiltration into the storm drain that it floods. Once we heard a hurricane was coming, or a storm rather, we started. So we’ll be good,” said North Miami Beach Public Works Director Esmond Scott.

Zea also spoke with shoppers, and many were not worried about the storm and put off buying supplies. But some, like Danny Torres, are already stocked up.

“I’d rather have that extra in the house and let it go bad, and need it and not have it. You don’t want to get caught with your pants down in the wind you know,” he said.

For boaters, the Coast Guard set port condition “WHISKEY” for Port Miami, Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port of Ft. Pierce and all other South Florida terminals and facilities due to the expectation that sustained gale force winds may arrive within 72 hours.

Sea Tow urges mariners to remove all detachable items from their boats and lash down everything you cannot remove.

You should also remove important documents like the registration from the vessel.

If your boat is on a trailer, tie it down,  let the air out of its tires, and weigh down the frame.

Boats kept on lifts should be removed if possible and the shore power should be disconnected.

If your boat is in a marina, Sea Tow says to center it in its slip and make sure dock lines are of sufficient length to compensate for extreme high water.

Comments (11)