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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBMiami) – Broward officials urged residents to get prepared for a possible Hurricane Matthew hit well before the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Warning for the county.

Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar held a press conference along with other local leaders at the Broward Emergency Operations Center Tuesday at around noon.

“We had a conference call with the National Weather Service and they’ve informed us that Broward County is under a Tropical Storm Watch from Deerfield Beach down,” said Kiar. “Above Deerfield Beach, there is a Hurricane Watch but Tropical Storm winds are still very, very serious.”

The mayor urged residents to take precaution now – ahead of a possible hit on Thursday.

“Our residents need to take all the precautions necessary to protect them and their families,” said Kiar. “If they have hurricane shutters, they need to put them up. They need to go to the store… and they need to buy water. They need to put gas in their car. They need to get propane for their grill. They need to buy enough food and medicine and supplies.”

Kiar held another press conference Tuesday evening.

Kiar said he spoke with the National Hurricane Center who said Broward has a 75 percent chance of being hit by tropical storm winds and a 15 percent chance of hurricane force winds on Thursday.

Starting Wednesday morning, the EOC will determine if there is a need to operate at full capacity.

Broward residents will receive cellphone alerts if county is upgraded to hurricane warning.

Related: Schools Open Wednesday In Dade, Broward Amid Hurricane Matthew Preps

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced schools in the district will be open on Wednesday morning, but will close Thursday and Friday in preparation for Hurricane Matthew. Runcie also said all evening classes and activities on Wednesday are cancelled.

“The good news is it goes into a weekend so it gives us a lot more time for us to be prepared to reset the district so we can open schools the following week,” Runcie said at an evening news conference.

Under a beautiful crescent moon, Davie residents shopped Tuesday night – filling up on plywood and gasoline. Their goal is to stay ahead of powerful Hurricane Matthew.

Paul Martini still has memories of Hurricane Wilma.

“When the power goes off and you’re sitting in the dark and you got the wind bashing against you,” Martini remembered, “you gotta be ready for anything.”

That’s exactly what Broward County leaders want residents to think about – not to be fearful but to be careful and mindful.

“We have not been hit by a storm in 11 years and it can be easy to become complacent and to think that these things may miss us,” Mayor Kiar said. “But this is very serious.”

Shoppers at a Publix in Hollywood were busy getting stocked up on items on their hurricane safety checklist.

“We’re buying a bunch of canned food, a bunch of water,” said Veronica Andric, who’s preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

“You have your batteries and your lanterns and your flashlights,” said shopper Ina Reiss.

Almost as soon as workers restocked the water isle, the water was gone.

Demand is high on basic necessities and that’s because people we spoke with told us after going through other storms, they’re not taking any chances.

“Charlie came and then there was Katrina and Wilma.  I remember them,” said shopper Lotte Purkis.  “Whatever happens, even if the eye doesn’t go over, I think we’re going to get a lot of swale, of wind, I think it’s best just to stay safe.”

As for residents who may be thinking about leaving their homes to head to a safer place, Kiar said, “We are looking at possibly opening up shelters.”

The shelter locations for different populations (general population, pediatrics, pets and special needs) will be announced sometime Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials say they are ready for the storm and its aftermath.

“Our men and women in fire, department of detention and law enforcement have been communicating with each other and we are fully prepared,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

And as preparations ramp up, county officials want residents to know that surviving a storm takes cooperation, not just between government agencies but between residents and its leaders.

“It makes all of our jobs easier to protect our residents when all of our residents are adequately prepared for any type of storm,” said Kiar.

Residents with any more questions can call 311 for further information.


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