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Barrier island residents taking no chances with Hurricane Dorian

Posted at 12:07 AM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 04:15:21-04

HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Fla. — Hurricane Dorian continues to gain strength in the Atlantic.

And even though orders have not been issued yet in South Florida as of Thursday evening, many are not taking any chances — especially on the barrier islands.

“This is my third hurricane in five years,” said Rick Timmermans, who moved from upstate New York since moving to Florida five years ago.

He’s preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

“I’m waiting until the sun goes down to put my shutters up,” he said. “It depends on the track, if it’s coming this way, we’re out of here.”

He lives on Nettles Island, a unique and quiet place because many of the homes here are manufactured. He has no plans to ride out the storm on the island and will be evacuating to another location in Boynton Beach when the time comes.

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“You’ve got to err on the side of caution and boogey on out of here,” he said. “When it comes to manufactured homes, you don’t want to take that chance.”

Down the street from Timmermans, workers at Nettles Island Marina are taking it seriously as well by helping fellow businesses board up windows.

“There’s a certain kind of bond Floridians have when the hurricanes come through. just being a good neighbor, doing your due diligence, have the storm plan,” said Mike Hart.

Local authorities say barrier islands can be a dangerous place to be during a storm. By failing to evacuate when told to do so, officials said you put your own life in danger as well as the lives of the first responders who will be called out, should you be in trouble.

“Heeding the warnings of your fire rescue when they tell you to go, it’s a very good thing to really have a plan and get out of the way,” said Lixie. “Because this storm is a really big one. You don’t want to get stuck in it. It can be dangerous or even deadly.”

At Shuckers on the Beach, general manager Robert Rae is most likely planning to close the restaurant this weekend, a time he was expecting to get big sales for Labor Day weekend.

“We were expecting to be quite busy this weekend, which is kind of a disappointment,” he said. “But with Mother Nature, you can’t change anything.”

The hotels nearby are also planning to close for safety reasons, as many of the structures are right on the beach.

Rae said his team will be taking all of the patio furniture inside and protecting their windows, a day’s worth of work. The awning over the deck is unable to be taken down because the company that installed it is inundated with work. So Rae is hopeful the storm doesn’t make a direct hit.

“We don’t have much of a sand dune left here, we’re basically right on the beach,” he said. “If we have any type of storm surge, the waves will come right up on the deck. All we can do is hope for the best.”

He said hopes his own neighbors understand the power of mother nature.

“When they tell you to evacuate the island, you should,” he said. “People are crazy when they stay out here.”