What to Know
- South Florida is preparing for possible impacts from Hurricane Isaias over the weekend
- Miami-Dade was closing all parks, marinas and golf courses Friday night
- Officials in Broward County were also urging residents to prepare for possible impacts
Leaders in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are urging residents to stay on guard for any possible effects that could come this weekend as Hurricane Isaias moves off shore.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez held a virtual news conference Friday morning at the county's Emergency Operations Center to address what the county is doing to prepare for tropical storm conditions that could start as early as late Friday night.
"Now is the time you should all be prepared, even if this storm is not forecasted to be a major storm," Gimenez said Friday. "It can still cause damage."
Gimenez said all parks, marinas and golf courses would be closing Friday night. He advised residents to have enough food to last between three days and one week and to also clear debris from in front of houses.
Gimenez added all county transit operations would remain normal at this time, but would shut down if forecasts call for sustained tropical storm force winds. Gimenez also advised restaurants in the county to move outdoor tables inside as a precaution.
Miami International Airport says it will remain open and only suspend operations if winds reached a sustained 55 miles per hour. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was also remaining open, but travelers were encouraged to check with their airline for flight status.
In an earlier tweet, Gimenez said all state and county-supported COVID-19 testing sites would be closed starting Thursday evening. Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said the sites would be opening up as soon as Monday.
"It's not going to be safe if you're going to have tropical storm force winds," Gimenez said, citing the number of tents used at sites. "We'll try to get them back up as soon as we can."
“I mean I got to go find somewhere else. I thought I was doing something good coming early, beating the traffic, but now I got to go look around," said Terrel Lubin, who showed up the Hard Rock Stadium site Friday morning. "Hopefully, nowhere else is closed. I need it because I need to go back to work."
Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties were placed under a tropical storm watch Thursday with rain expected to drop anywhere between two and six inches of water in the area.
Sandbag distributions were taking place Friday at locations across in both counties, including both the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach as well as in Doral - where sand ran out around 12 p.m.
“As a mayor, I lose sleep over flooding," said Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper. “Even if it stays off shore, we’ve seen microbursts here and flooding. You know, it’s a flood prone area.”
Palmetto Bay residents who bring their own bags will be able to get sand starting at 3 p.m. at Coral Reef Park, located at 7895 Southwest 152nd Street.
In Fort Lauderdale, restaurants along A1A were taking precautions Friday, bringing outdoor tables inside.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Broward County mayor Dale Holness said there were 34 shelters in place should they be needed.
"We will get through this storm as we always do," Holness said.
In Dania Beach, where there are low-lying areas prone to flood, public works employees were using vacuum trucks to clear out drains. They also removed debris like bulk waste and tree clippings, which could become projectiles.
The South Florida Water Management District is also working to keep things flowing by lowering the water levels in their canals.
"We're seeing rainfall projections in some areas of possibly six-plus inches so we go ahead of time and proactively and bring the water levels in the canals down to an appropriate level to where we would be able to accommodate a forecast such as six inches," said water management spokesman Randy Smith.
Miami-Dade has been preparing for handling a tropical storm or hurricane in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, stockpiling supplies and adding shelter space.
The county has 82 shelters that could house 112,000 people, officials said. Gimenez said 20 of the shelters would be placed on standby with proper protections in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the COVID pandemic.
Gimenez said the guidelines do make things different in the era of COVID-19, but advised residents to abide by them.
"The first thing you have to do is get out of the way (of the storm), but you must take precautions," he said. Gimenez said those who have tested positive should still evacuate if ordered, adding schools and other shelters have locations prepared to isolate those patients inside.