To borrow a line from 90’s pop band Semisonic, and Hurricane Dorian-ize it a bit: Closing time … time for you to go now to the places you need to be …
In their final update before the storm’s passing, Osceola County officials stressed that a curfew will go into place at 11 p.m. tonight through 6 a.m. tomorrow – violators could be fined or arrested on a misdemeanor charge – and will be in place each night until the threat of Dorian passes.
“Now that we’re out of the worst we thought we might get, it still could shift and the storm could produce very high winds and flooding.” County Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb said at a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday. “Don’t start going out, don’t start driving, that’s why we have the curfew.”
Here’s the bottom line on the storm conditions residents have prepared for, which will begin today: winds will begin picking up at 2 p.m. today, and tropical storm-force winds are expected between 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. tomorrow morning — hence the curfew – if the storm stays on the current track provided by the National Hurricane Center.
“Residents still need to prepare for the worst with a jog to the west,” Osceola’s Emergency Management Director Bill Litton said. “This is still a dangerous, powerful storm and is still barely crawling through the Bahamas. Remain in you homes or sheltered in place, now’s the time to stay off the roads. Do not let your guard down and remain vigilant to your storm plans.”
About 500 people are currently housed in seven county shelters, and there is capacity at all: Harmony and Liberty High schools (pet friendly), St. Cloud and Celebration High, Kissimmee and Horizon Middle, the Kenansville Community Center and the Osceola Council on Aging for those with special medical needs. As the county issued a voluntary evacuation for those in low-lying areas and manufactured housing, residents can call the county’s special needs hotline (407-742-9001) for the next couple hours to arrange a ride to a shelter if they need it. The general citizen hotline is 407-742-0000.
The mandatory evacuation of Good Samaritan Village is ongoing. Nursing home patients have been transferred to the organization’s sister facility in DeLand, and those who just need a place to go are being sent to the St. Cloud Senior Center. Sheriff Russ Gibson said the Sheriff’s Office has a strike team in place to prevent any looting or crime. Litton said Shingle Creek is “maintaining”, and the county hopes the floods from 2017’s Hurricane Irma don’t repeat.
Like the public schools, all government offices (Kissimmee, St. Cloud, county, courthouse) are closed Tuesday (today) and Wednesday. Since there will also be no trash pickups through Wednesday, residents are asked to stow trash cans in sheds or garages, and don’t put items to the curb as they can become projectiles in the wind.
To get automatic updates to you phone, text “AlertOsceola” to 888777.
Good luck, everyone.