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Broward Schools Closing Thursday & Friday Ahead Of Irma

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) -- Broward County's mayor urged residents to finish up their preps in case of a possible hit by Hurricane Irma later this week.

"We do expect to have some impact from the storm, beginning Friday," said Mayor Barbara Sharief.

Broward Schools will be closed starting Thursday but Wednesday will be a full school day.

"Given the severity of the storm and in an abundance of caution and to give parents sufficient time to adequately prepare we will be suspending and closing school on Thursday and Friday of this week," said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Earlier, Sharief urged residents to take the time to properly prepare.

"Irma is a serious category 5 storm that does pose a threat to South Florida. Broward County may be experiencing Tropical Storm force winds as early as Friday evening. Most conditions are expected to worsen throughout the weekend," said Mayor Sharief said.

At last check, evacuations had not been ordered in the county. Shelter operations are expected to start Thursday. Click here for a full list of shelters. 

As for public transit, that will stay open until the county starts feeling Tropical Storm force winds.

The county has already opened the Emergency Hotline for locals and will starting taking calls 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week starting Wednesday. To call the hotline, you can dial 311 or 954-831-4000.

Those who live in evacuation zones, are urged to already know where to go, just in case.

"If you live in an evacuation zone, determine when and where you will evacuate to," said Sharief. "Going to stay with family outside the evacuation zone is the best choice since shelters only provide for vacant needs."

Sharief said they are working with other counties to coordinate evacuations if necessary.

Make sure to stock up on emergency supplies and remove items that are loose outside of your home.

"Any item left curbside as the storm approaches can become harmful projectiles in strong winds," said Sharief.

As for ports and airports in the county, Fort Lauderdale -Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades are operating at this time but they are monitoring the information closely.

Travelers should contact their airline or cruise line for individual travel information.

"Family members of passengers currently on cruise and scheduled to arrive this weekend should also contact their cruise line for any changes to schedule or port changes," said Sharief.

The mayor urged residents to prepare for a possible hit but hope for the best.

"Please understand that we are asking you to be prepared and not panicked,"said Sharief.

At a Pembroke Pines Costco on Pines Boulevard and 159th Avenue, people had been there for hours Tuesday morning.

Lines were seen outside the store with many prepared to wait until they got the items they needed.

Police were called to help as people like Betty Sparks patiently try to get supplies.

"Well my concern is I won't have any water if the water is gone," Sparks said.

Javier Aragon arrived early at Costco.

"Well it is never too early to prepare as Irma is a Category 5 storm and we are very concerned," Aragon said. "It's really concerning because not only the winds but the flooding as You saw in Houston so we all want to prepare and hope for the best."

The traffic has been nonstop at the Costco store in Pembroke Pines, an indication of things across South Florida.

One manager told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that at one point Tuesday morning they were taking care of a thousand people an hour.

As night set in Broward, the gas was nearly gone.

"This is my third gas station. Terrible. You will probably make it here. They got gas," said Nicole.

Water wasn't any easier to come by.

"They ran out of water," Said Yordie Barry, who said she would check again Wednesday. "They say they will have it at 9:00 a.m. Get in line like everyone else."

Besides panic at the pumps and no water on the shelves, for many South Floridians it's not their first rodeo with a major hurricane.

"I got the bare essentials, bottles of wine. I got my beef jerky. I'm all set," said Dr. Helen Salsbury. "I have a bunch of people coming over. I want to make sure everyone is happy, relaxed, there is not much you can do about this big storm you know."

The National Hurricane Center suggests picking up the following materials:

  • Water - At least 1 gallon of water per person/ animal per day for at least 3 days.
  • Food- At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Radio- A battery-powered radio with NOAA weather radio tone alert and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight- Make sure you have extra batteries as well.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Manual Can Opener - If the electricity is out, you would need some way to open your canned food.
  • Cell Phone -  Make sure you have extra battery packs or a solar charger to keep your phone on.
  • Prescription Medications
  • Glasses
  • Cash
  • Important family documents - Make sure you have copies of insurance policies and some form of state issued ID.
  • Sturdy shoes - Think about pulling out those rain boots and sneakers.
  • Pet Supplies - Your pets will need enough food and water to also weather out the storm with you.

If you have a generator, make sure you have propane. Also, try to top off your gas tank ahead of time.

If you're in Broward and need to protect your pet before and during a hurricane click here.

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