Residents heed state’s warning and prepares early for hurricane
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Like other Floridians, local residents were taking Hurricane Irma seriously and had begun to prepare early. People snapped up water, snacks and other supplies from stores. Lines formed at gas stations and sandbag sites were busy.
Local schools were monitoring the hurricane and making plans to open as shelters. Bethune-Cookman University acted early and closed on Wednesday for the week.
On Wednesday, the deadly hurricane had shifted east as it churned through the Caribbeean. The National Hurricane Center expects it to hit Florida by Sunday.
Irma remained a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph.
Hoping for the best
Selina Ross, manager of the Crab Stop II restaurant, said her family, which owns the Crab Stop restaurant chain, was concerned but not too worried.
The Crab Stop II, located at 933 West International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach, is one of the city’s most successful Black-owned businesses.
“We’re not actually worried. We don’t want it to come, but if it does we do hope that everyone is safe and alive, including our families, our employee families and the community as a whole. We hope there is no major damage, especially anything that could shut us down,” Ross said.
Some Matthew damage
She noted that the restaurant did receive some damage in October 2016 from Hurricane Matthew.
“We did get some roof damage, some of the lights in the parking lot got damaged and more. We even had to replace our sign,’’ she remarked.
Ross said she had started putting up storm shelters in preparation for Irma but had not made any other major plans.
Athletic competitions and practices and extra-curricular activities for Friday have been cancelled or rescheduled. All junior varsity football games were moved to Wednesday or rescheduled; varsity games were moved to Thursday.
According to the Volusia Schools website, the extended day programs at elementary schools were to remain open on Friday, Sept. 8.
An ACT test scheduled for area high schools on Saturday, Sept. 9, is cancelled; the test will be offered again in October.
Colleges closed early
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) ordered its students living on campus to evacuate by Wednesday at 6 p.m. Arrangements were made to transport students to nearby shelters.
On Tuesday, B-CU students that the Times spoke to said they were heading for their hometowns.
“If Hurricane Irma decides to hit Daytona, I am packing all of my belongings and going to Georgia to stay with my uncle or maybe I’ll be headed back to Tampa,” said Ahlana McAffee, a junior hospitality major from Tampa.
Chelsey Strachan, a senior Mass Communications major from Los Angeles, was planning to fly back home. Strachan said her first hurricane experience was last year with Matthew.
“The first one I experienced was last year in 2016 in Daytona Beach with Hurricane Matthew. I was terrified and traumatized. In the case of an evacuation, I will be on the first flight back home,” she related.
On its website, Daytona State College stated that it would close at 2 p.m. Thurday. All classes and activities were canceled on all campuses.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University closed on Wednesday at 5 p.m. It will remain closed through Sept. 12.
‘Do not sit and wait’
Gov. Rick Scott has urged all of Floridians to get prepared and have a plan.
“Every family needs to have a plan…Do not sit and wait. Prepare right now,” he said Wednesday morning.
The governor said the state was working to keep evacuation rounds open and moving without getting bogged down in traffic.
He urged residents not to wait if asked to leave.
“Do not ignore evacuation orders,” he added.
Daytona Times intern Greg Lewis contributed to this report. He is a senior and mass communications major at Bethune-Cookman University.