Town of Palm Beach officials don’t expect much damage from Hurricane Isaias, but they have undertaken the usual storm preparations.
Town Manager Kirk Blouin said Saturday he’s cautiously optimistic that Hurricane Isaias won’t cause too much damage — but the town isn’t taking any chances.
"Everything’s done," Blouin said of the storm preparations. "Now we’re just closely monitoring and pushing information out to the public."
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National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami said the Category 1 Isaias was weakening late Saturday afternoon, but that coastal residents from about West Palm Beach through the Treasure Coast should prepare for a worse-case scenario of winds between 74 and 110 mph. Inland areas east of Lake Okeechobee could feel winds between 58 to 73 mph.
The center of the storm was expected to remain offshore as the storm moves up Florida’s east coast. It is expected to make landfall in North Carolina next week.
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The town declared an emergency on Friday and the Emergency Operations Center is ready if needed, Blouin said.
Over the past few days, public works crews have been storm-hardening town facilities, while the zoning department has worked with contractors to make sure their job sites are buttoned down.
Public works crews also have made sure storm water pump stations are operational and storm drains are cleared of debris, he said.
"We are prepared to get some flooding," Blouin said. "But nothing that I would expect to be life threatening."
Emergency response has been beefed up with additional police and firefighters.
The town closed the public and privately owned beaches on Saturday and Sunday. "The last thing you want are some surfers who go missing out in the water and family members are unable to make contact," he said.
Evacuation orders aren’t issued unless the hurricane is a Category 2 or higher, Blouin said. Residents are urged to shelter at home unless special conditions, such as a medical condition, warrant other arrangements, he said.
When a hurricane approaches, the town gauges the level of public interest or anxiety partly through the phone calls that come into the police department, he said.
"The volume of calls seems to be very low for this storm, which is good," he said. "People seem to be optimistic."
Questions from the public should be directed to the police department’s non emergency number, 561-838-5454, or emailed to townofpalmbeach.com, he said. Emails are monitored and responded to around the clock, he said.