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Stay or go? Some barrier island, coastal residents decide to hunker down

Posted at 11:49 PM, Sep 06, 2017

Stay or go? That's the question on the minds of so many across South Florida.

The Florida keys are under mandatory evacuations. And even though orders have not been issued yet in Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, thousands are not taking any chances.

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Still, on the barrier islands and coastal areas of Palm Beach County, some folks are hunkering down.

No matter where Irma makes landfall, it's all about neighbor helping neighbor in Lake Worth.

"It's time to help each other," said resident Bob Decosta.

And Decosta is doing that by helping put up hurricane shutters for his neighbors and others in need across the neighborhood.

"Just making sure we brace for the hurricane and hope for the best," he told WPTV on Wednesday. "It's already scary and I think that this is the time to get together and help each other."

Tara Green, a night nurse at Delray Beach Medical Center, is grateful for the extra help. Despite living in a potential evacuation zone, she's planning to stay in her home throughout the storm.

"We don't want my dad going up on ladders so much anymore at his age and I'm scared of heights," she said. "I don't have any time to get it done so it's really been great to have somebody to help."

Meanwhile, hardware stores like Lowes are running low on anything from plywood, bolts, water, propane tanks and generators.

"The trucks are still flowing in and we have everybody in the back unloading," said manager Idell Farrell. 'We have employees working basically seven days a week, as many hours as they can."

There is a system to getting the more in-demand supplies.

"We can't have people just coming in picking it up because it becomes too chaotic," said Farrell. "We can't just reserve things. As soon as we get it, we're getting it out right to the customers."

A store in Boynton Beach received a shipment of about 300 to 400 propane tanks on Tuesday morning and within one hour, the item was sold out.

"Especially with Hurricane Harvey in Texas, a lot of supplies went to Texas and now it's South Florida," said Farrell. "The corporate office is trying to supply all of us so they're just shipping in things and as soon as we get it, we have a team back there to bring it out to the floor."

Supplies and shipments are coming in last minute to Lowes and other hardware stores, so managers are advising customers to keep an eye out and be on standby for more supplies.

"As we get the shipments and they're able to the store, they'll roll in and we'll unload them and we'll get them right out," said Farrell.

Meanwhile, others in the coastal areas are gassing up to head out.

"We're leaving. We're not going to stay -- just because we're so close to the water we're not going to take any chances," said Cathy Beltran, who plans to evacuate Thursday at the latest. "We've got gas cans, got tons of water, essentials -- our dog, our bird. They're all going into the car!"

There are several people planning to stay behind on the barrier islands and Intracoastal areas. The neighbors in Lake Worth said they will be checking on each other throughout the storm.

"Don't worry about the property. The property can get rebuilt but not life. Life is very precious," said Decosta.

Palm Beach County has declared a state of emergency, asking residents to stock up on water, food and emergency supplies to last at least three days. Click here to learn more.

However, county officials have not announced any evacuations or curfews yet. You can check your evacuation zone by visiting www.pbcgov.com.