Residents of West Orange County hunkered down earlier this week after grabbing sandbags, cases of water and gasoline before Hurricane Dorian, which was projected Sept. 1 to reach Florida by Monday or Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Prior to the storm, Ocoee High School was one of nine schools slated to open as a shelter at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.
Orange County Public Schools was to remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 3. City government offices were closed Tuesday, Sept. 2, and Orange County parks were set to close after 3 p.m. Monday.
Municipalities reached out to residents in the days leading up to the storm, encouraging them to be prepared and make sure their homes were storm-ready with necessary supplies.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an emergency executive order declaring a State of Local Emergency in Orange County Aug. 30.
“While we continue to remain cautiously optimistic about this storm, we do have to realize that it is a massive storm that is still somewhat unpredictable,” Demings said in a press conference Sunday, Sept. 1. “We’re talking about something that is a category 5 that has, at this time, 175-mph winds. Because of that, we must continue our hurricane preparedness efforts here within Orange County.
“While we hope this storm will stay out of our area and out at sea, we must continue to prepare as if it really is headed our way,” he said.
Local governments also provided residents with sandbags to protect properties from flooding. As of Sept. 1, Orange County distributed 187,000 sandbags to residents — it had distributed 120,000 leading up to Hurricane Irma.
Demings said the increase can be attributed to Orange County opening self-serve sandbag sites as early as Aug. 19.