NOTE: This is a rapidly developing situation. This information is current as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6. Keep checking our site for newer updates.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs led county officials in a press conference today regarding Hurricane Irma preparedness. Ronald Plummer, manager of Orange County office of emergency management, said Orange County residents should be prepared with food, water, medicines, cash, batteries and a way to stay abreast of news and weather updates, but most should plan to shelter in place.
Plummer said, "We are an inland county. We don't recommend you to evacuate your home, if you are in a site-built home. We're going to be in touch with individuals in manufactured or mobile home parks, and those in low-lying areas" — the county has a shelter plan for them and will make sure those residents are informed, he said.
However, George Ralls, director of Orange County public safety and health services, said that shelter needs are different for those with special medical needs. Everyone should stock up on necessary medications now, and those who depend on medical equipment that requires power (nebulizers, ventilators, electric wheelchairs and the like) should call 311 and check in to ensure that shelters are equipped to meet those needs. There is a registry for special needs shelters, which will open first.
Saturday is "probably" the earliest the county will open shelters. Go to the county website
for information on shelters, or download the OCFL app for Apple or Android, follow Orange County on Twitter
, or call 311.
Mayor Jacobs also said this is the first year that the county is "making a concerted effort to do outreach" to assist homeless residents in finding shelter and being prepared "should the storm head this way."
Ray Hanson, director of Orange County Utilities, acknowledged that there is a bottled water shortage in Florida, but added that, although stores plan to restock, "the water coming out of your tap is every bit as good as bottled water" and for just a few dollars you can store a thousand gallons in clean containers.
Click here to find out where Orange County residents can get up to 10 free sandbags
Click here for tips on disaster preparedness
Click here for information on evacuation help for housebound or medical special needs