By Mike Cugno

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A storm threat in the midst of a pandemic it’s a double whammy we have never faced here in South Florida.

Thankfully, there are no evacuations taking place here but Hurricane Isaias is a reminder that we have a long way to go in this 2020 hurricane season.

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“There is a hurricane off our coast. It is not new to us in South Florida,” said Broward Mayor Dale Holness at a Friday afternoon news conference at the Emergency Operations Center in Plantation.

Mayor Holness said the county is prepared.

“We have shelters that are on the ready. Thirty-four shelters, if we need to open them, we will.”

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport remains open, but that could change depending on weather conditions.  Port Miami and Port Everglades are now closed, as are COVID-19 test sites.  Those testing locations will open on Tuesday.

Some Broward residents began preparing Friday for whatever the storm will bring.

Some residents in Hallandale Beach loaded up on free sandbags, compliments of the city. They’re getting ready for expected rain.

Denise Ferrell waited in line at the Big Easy Casino where they’re being distributed. Lots of people showed up, wanting to make sure they’re prepared.

“I’m hoping they’re not necessary. I’ve never needed them before but might as well be safe,” said Ferrell.

“A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you gotta be prepared,” said Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper.

Cooper said the sandbags are especially important for those who live in low lying areas that usually flood in Hallandale Beach. She’s hoping everyone gets ready.

“Have your water ready, have some canned food around, make sure you have some batteries and lighting. Once these storms hit, we lockdown and we can’t come out,” she said.

People lined up for gas at the Costco in Davie Costco to make sure they didn’t have to scramble at the last minute.

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“I just found out about it this morning when I turned on the television. I haven’t been paying attention, I’m ashamed to say,” Michael LaPietra said.

Others have been making preps for a couple of days now.

“I was hoping this year would be a little slow on that. We did prepare a little bit by getting flashlights and a few other things like tarps we may need, hopefully, we will not need them,” said Carlos DeJesus.

In Dania Beach crews were busy getting rid of debris around storm drains, making sure that if there’s a lot of rain, the water has somewhere to go.

“We’re doing a lot of cleaning today of the southeast area to try to get those drains clear because over the course of months and weeks the drains can silt up, clog up with various debris, vegetation, soda cans, all sorts of silt and debris,” said Fernando Rodriguez with Dania Beach Public Services.

Those clean drains are a critical part of the system to reduce flooding. That water eventually flows into South Florida’s expansive canal system and those canals have already been lowered to make room.

“By having room in the canals, meaning you’ve lowered the water levels, when the rains start and hit our yards, our parking lots, all that rain makes its way into storm drains and the locals will flow into theirs, then the South Florida Water Management District canals and then it’s pushed out into the ocean,” said Randy Smith with the South Florida Water Management District.

In Miami, some folks were still enjoying the nice weather with a meal outside.

Some business near Miracle Mile have sand bags in place while others said they will wait until Saturday morning to bring in tables and chairs.

Luis Ginestra, the CEO of the restaurant Boketto said business was already hurting from COVID-19 and now they’ll have to close up shop Saturday since only outdoor seating is allowed.

“We’re just going to wrap up furniture and everything inside the restaurant. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to close tomorrow because everything is outdoor seating with the rain and the win we’re not going to be able to have business tomorrow.”



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