Florida Irma Update

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach, the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay.

EVACUATIONS AND SHELTERS
Based on recent forecasts, the US Army Corps has been reviewing how the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike will be impacted. Governor Scott spoke to Col. Jason Kirk with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today and the Corps. believes there will be additional impacts from excessive wind pushing some water over the Dike. While they have assured the Governor that the structural integrity of the Dike will not be compromised, Governor Scott has ordered voluntary evacuations beginning immediately in the cities surrounding the southern half of Lake Okeechobee from Lake Port to Canal Point in Hendry, Palm Beach and Glades counties. Mandatory evacuations will be put in place for these communities beginning tomorrow morning. Information regarding transportation and sheltering will be released tomorrow morning. This decision was made due to Governor Scott’s sole focus on life safety as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. The seven cities affected by these orders are as follows:
o  South Bay
o  Lake Harbor
o  Pahokee
o  Moore Haven
o  Clewiston
o  Belle Glade
o  Canal Point
Brevard – mandatory evacuations for Zone A, Merritt Island, barrier islands, and some low-lying mainland areas along Indian River Lagoon beginning Friday
Broward – voluntary evacuations mobile homes and low-lying areas; mandatory East of Federal Highway including barrier islands beginning Thursday
Collier – mandatory evacuations for Goodland, Everglades City, Chokoloskee, all mobile homes beginning on Friday
Flagler – mandatory evacuations for nursing homes, all varieties of assisted living facilities, and community residential group homes within coastal and Intracoastal areas and voluntary for zones A, B, C, F beginning on Thursday; mandatory for Zones A,B,C,F, and substandard housing beginning on Saturday
Hendry – voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas, non-slab-built homes, mobile home and RVs beginning on Thursday
Lee – mandatory evacuations for barrier islands – Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Island beginning on Friday AM
Manatee – voluntary evacuations for Zone A
Martin – voluntary evacuations for mandatory for barrier islands, manufactured homes, and low-lying areas beginning Saturday
Miami-Dade – mandatory evacuations for all of Zone A, all of Zone B, and portions of Zone C. Miami Dade residents can find their zones by clicking HERE.
Monroe – mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents. A dedicated transportation hotline is available specifically for individuals in the Keys at 305-517-2480
Palm Beach – mandatory evacuations for Zone A and B, voluntary for Zone C
Pinellas – mandatory evacuations all mobile home and Zone A
St. Lucie – voluntary evacuations
School buses are available for transportation needs in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties. At this time, Monroe has accepted 10 buses to help with evacuations, Miami-Dade Counties are using these services to help evacuate those with special needs and Broward has buses on stand-by.
Additional evacuations are expected throughout the state. All Floridians should pay close attention to local alerts and follow the directions of local officials.
Shelters are continuing to open, including shelters for people with special needs, pets and general populations. DOH is coordinating the set up and staffing for special needs shelters. A list of all open shelters will be available at floridadisaster.org/shelters.
The state is working with the American Red Cross to identify shelter capacity both during and following the storm.

MILITARY SUPPORT
Governor Scott has activated a total of 4,000 members of the Florida Army and Air National Guard to support with planning, and logistics operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These members are stationing across the state and actively assisting with preparation efforts.
At the direction of Governor Scott, all remaining National Guard members will be reporting for duty tomorrow morning. Additional guard members will continue to be activated this week as needed.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the North Carolina National Guard to utilize air assets to assist with ongoing evacuations in the Florida Keys.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the New Jersey National Guard and approximately 130 soldiers and more than 50 vehicles are in route to provide transportation assets for movement of troops, supplies and equipment to aid mobilization efforts during Hurricane Irma operations.
The Florida National Guard has coordinated with the Ohio National Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard to have teams standing by for Hurricane Irma support.
The Florida National Guard has 1,000 high water vehicles, 13 helicopters, 17 boats and more than 700 generators on standby.
The Florida National Guard is coordinating with the National Guard Bureau to identify approximately 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters, and air evacuation crews that are standing by for Hurricane Irma support, if needed.
The Florida National Guard Joint Operations Center at Camp Blanding has activated to Level 1 to facilitate Hurricane Irma mission command and coordination efforts.

LAW ENFORCEMENT;
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty teams with supporting resources such as trucks, coastal and river patrol boats, an ATV and two shallow draft boats are preparing for evacuation support, search and rescue missions, or any additional needs.
FWC is also coordinating with partners in states such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas in case additional officers or resources are needed.
FDLE is assisting with fuel escorts in impacted areas. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and those teams will begin deploying tomorrow to pre-staging locations. Each FDLE region is operating its Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Team in advance of the storm to assist local law enforcement with any needs.
The entire Florida Highway Patrol, approximately 1,700 troopers, is on 12-hour shifts, with the primary mission to assist emergency preparedness and response, including escorting fuel trucks.
A total of 330 FHP troopers are currently on standby for deployments. A 33-member team is currently in route to the Fort Myers area for quick response efforts once storm track and potential impacts are determined. Additionally, equipment such as high water recovery vehicles have been prepared for quick deployment to assist with recovery and road clearance efforts.
The Division of Motorist Services has its Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) mobiles on standby and will deploy them to impacted areas as needed.

TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC WORKS
Governor Scott directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to suspend tolls across the entire State of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Tolls will be suspended for the duration of the storm’s impacts to Florida.
Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes is available at http://www.FL511.com
FDOT has increased the number of road rangers who are patrolling Florida’s roadways 24/7 to assist motorists.
Around the state, FDOT has 13 Traffic Management Centers where hundreds of DOT workers are monitoring traffic cameras 24/7 to ensure traffic flows continue and evacuations proceed without interruption.
FDOT officials are also monitoring road cameras at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee around the clock to help keep traffic moving.
FDOT is coordinating with Google’s emergency response team to prepare to ‘close’ roads in Google Maps in real time in the event that Hurricane Irma forces the closure of any roads in the aftermath of the storm. Google Maps are used for Uber and Waze among other directional applications.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has suspended construction contractor work and prepared key evacuation routes for possible shoulder use.
·         FDOT is coordinating with county emergency operations centers directly to coordinate any necessary response actions, including activating traffic counters, providing local evacuation support and providing maintenance of traffic and other assistance.

·         The state is monitoring conditions at all airports and seaports. Key West International Airport will be suspending operations this evening. All seaports are open and making preparations.

VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS
Volunteer Florida is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. To volunteer, go to volunteerflorida.org or call 1-800-FL-Help-1.
Governor Scott has set a goal of 17,000 volunteers. So far, more than 1,500 state employees and more than 8,300 members of the public have signed up with Red Cross to take the volunteer sheltering training.
Volunteer Florida is working with the Red Cross to identify staffing for host shelters in Sarasota, Alachua and Leon Counties.
Volunteer Florida has 43 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) on standby to deploy to areas of need. Many of these teams have begun to work in local call centers and prepare for sheltering assistance.
American Red Cross teams are coordinating feeding at shelters and have staged 26 tractor trailers at the State Logistics Response Center, 150 trailers at the State Farmers Market, and 100 emergency response vehicles in North Florida.
The Salvation Army has the capability to provide 100,000 meals a day. Salvation Army is on standby with 32 cooking units and two field kitchens stationed in Palm Beach and Miami. They are also coordinating additional supplies awaiting deployment from neighboring states.
The Florida Baptist Convention has eight kitchens ready and the ability to feed 90,000 people immediately. Twenty-seven more kitchens are on standby ready to feed 35,000 meals a day.
Feeding Florida has received nine truckloads of food from Kellogg’s to assist in shelters with 16 additional trucks coming in. Feeding Florida currently has more than 4,000 food boxes on hand capable of sustaining a family of four for five days. Feeding Florida has 3,000 shelf stable meal boxes ready to distribute to staging areas in Miami and Orlando. Volunteers are compiling 20,000 food bags, which hold 20 pounds of food and can be distributed as needed. Feeding Florida also has baby food/formula kits available for distribution.
Church World Service has hygiene kits and cleanup buckets on standby.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida has showers and trailers available in Pensacola and Lakeland for deployment, as well as supplies such as chainsaws, shovels, safety equipment and 1,200 tarps.
Church of Latter Day Saints has chainsaws, tarps, and water on standby.
United Methodist Church has hygiene kits and flood buckets on standby.
Angel Flight SE has 700 pilots based in the southeastern U.S. available to assist.
Church of Scientology is activating volunteers for FL and receiving volunteers and donations in Clearwater.
Church of Latter Day Saints is transporting material (primarily tarps, chainsaws, food and water) to Orlando, more on order from Atlanta Bishop’s Storehouse
Mission North American Disaster Relief is staging equipment in various locations across the state and have two shower trailers available.
UMCOR has 2,500-3000 flood buckets on hand and 3,000 hygiene kits.
United Way is arranging enhanced staffing for 211 to support and direct residents.

HUMAN SERVICES
While the state is working with retail partners to fill grocery store shelves with water and other emergency resources as quickly as possible, it is important to be considerate of neighbors and take only what each family needs to be prepared.
Governor Scott has requested federal resources such as disaster tarps, water, baby food supplies, supply trucks, search and rescue personnel and equipment and incident management teams.
The state has established local points of contact with mass care organizations and volunteer agencies, including working with the American Red Cross to coordinate sheltering and feeding operations. The American Red Cross has also established a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO) in Orlando and is actively opening shelters.
The state is staging mass care supplies such as meals, shelter support trailers and water at the State Logistic Response Center in Orlando for deployments as needed.
The state is sending 120,000 dehydrated meals to The Salvation Army and The Florida Baptist for distribution as needed.
Food Safety Response Teams are beginning to be placed on standby for recovery assessments.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has released September Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to current recipients who have not yet received them to assist with Hurricane Irma preparations

 CHRIS SALAMONE

 

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Florida air travel starts to shut down ahead of Irma

Hurricane Irma’s impending landfall in Florida is forcing airlines serving some of the largest airports in America to shutter operations and get out of the way of the powerful storm.

Irma has already trashed airports, buildings and roads in the Caribbean. St. Maarten, a major international destination for U.S. and European carriers, was in ruins after the storm. Photos from the Netherlands Ministry of Defense showed its runway covered in sand and widespread damage at its terminal building and jetways.

By late Saturday, Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale – home to the 12th, 13th, 21st largest airports in the U.S., respectively – will be largely dormant as the extreme weather rolls in.

But the prospect of a direct hit from Irma represents another blow to U.S. air travel in one of the busiest air corridors on the planet for business and leisure travel.

Among Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, the three airports handled more than 115 million passengers in 2016.

View image on Twitter

The scramble was so acute that the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday evening said air traffic controllers were increasing the space between flights from Miami and nearby Fort Lauderdale to enable them to better manage the crowded skies. And American Airlines (AAL)was briefly under an FAA ground stop in Miami due to ATC rerouting outbound aircraft.

The airline had added 16 extra flights from Miami on Thursday, including 12 to Dallas, one to Philadelphia and three to New York, enough room for more than 3,600 passengers. The Fort Worth-based carrier said it has canceled more than 2,400 flights as of Thursday afternoon stretching through Sept. 11.

Related: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may mess with the job market

The biggest single carrier in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region is American, which accounts of 38% of the flying there, according to Morgan Stanley. Southwest Airlines (LUV) is the largest single operator in Orlando at 20%.

Delta Air Lines (DAL), too, has added 2,000 additional seats on Thursday flights out of Florida and Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, including 1,500 from Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Airlines and airports operate preparedness plans in 72, 48 and 24 hour markers, evacuating aircraft and personnel and preparing stations as part of a methodical checklist ahead of a storm’s arrival, according to Ken Jenkins, principal crisis response strategist at NavAid Crisis Consulting Group.

American, which has a hub in Miami, will operate its last outbound flight from the airport on Friday, when it departs for Dallas just before 4 p.m. American is also shutting operations in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.

Miami hasn’t announced if it will cease commercial flying during the storm, but once sustained winds hit 55 miles per hour, aircraft cannot take off or land.

Air traffic controllers may shelter at lower levels in control towers or nearby buildings and will remain on duty, according to the FAA, “and are ready to go back to work as soon as the storm passes.”

 

Commercial flights will cease at Key West Airport at 8 p.m. on Friday and Orlando International Airport at 5 p.m. on Saturday due to Hurricane Irma and Fort Lauderdale at 7:45 p.m. In Orlando, 50 knot winds will shut down the airport’s outdoor tram which shuttles passengers between terminals.

The duration of any shutdown remains uncertain. American said any timeline for resumption of flights will be governed by not only airport conditions, but also the ability of airport and airline staff to get to work.

It’s not just commercial airlines getting out of Irma’s path.

Farther north in South Carolina, Boeing (BA) said it was suspending manufacturing operations starting on Saturday morning. The company’s expansive North Charleston facility is flying out any 787 Dreamliner that’s able to fly or bringing aircraft inside the factory, which is rated for a category five hurricane.

Finding New Leadership: Humboldt Harbor District Executive Director Steps Down

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- A change in leadership comes to the Humboldt Harbor District as Executive Director Jack Crider’s resignation was officially accepted during a public meeting of the commission today.

According to Commission Chair Richard Marks, the board is hoping to appoint a new leader by Mid-December. With that in mind, they assembled a list of names (including two current and some former commissioners) to join a selection/appointment committee that will seek out a successor for Crider. That list was formulated in a closed meeting earlier in the day.

That list, however, was not particularly well received by a number of community members who appeared at Thursday’s meeting. People like Kent Sawatzky took to the podium asking that the selection board be expanded to include a more diverse group of individuals with a vested interest in the harbor.

“We strongly support not having prior commissioners on this force. We’d like to see new blood, diversified.” Sawatsky said, “Everything from Bay Keepers to the local people who participate in the fishing industry. Everybody should have input on this process. It’s very important to Humboldt County and the future of our Bay.”

Sawatsky mentioned that a committee without diversity could be slanted, and make the community feel excluded. Commissioners argued that their original list was drafted with experience and efficiency in mind for its members. Still, they remained receptive to the messages left on the floor by Sawatsky and his peers.

After listening to public comment, the commission voted to wait on officially naming the final members of the selection committee. In the weeks to come they hope to have more eyes hit resumes and be involved in the interview process for a new executive director.

Somaliland’s women show kindness and leadership in the face of a humanitarian crisis

For three years now, Somaliland, like much of East Africa, has experienced extreme drought. Drought that has become more and more severe, until earlier this year, with thousands on the brink of starvation, the government of Somaliland declared a national emergency.

The crisis should serve as a warning to the rest of the world to prepare – and prepare well – for extreme weather events, which are occurring with greater frequency and ferocity than ever before.

As the drought ravages the communities of Somaliland and its neighbours, hurricane Irma is making its destructive path through the Caribbean islands towards Florida. Countries in South Asia have been battling floods affecting more than 24 million people. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc on the United States’ Gulf of Mexico. Sierra Leone has scrambled to respond to the deadly impacts of a landslide that took nearly 500 lives.

Needless to say, the impacts of these events are wide reaching. They extend beyond the obvious food, water and shelter shortages to the inevitable knock-on effects, such as mass migration within and across country borders, and the aggravation of pre-existing inequalities.

I’ve recently spent two weeks in the small, self-declared independent state in the northwest of Somalia, meeting women leading the humanitarian response to the disaster in their villages. Just hours outside Hargeisa, Somaliland’s tiny capital, I met women in drought-ravaged communities who have taken up leadership roles for the first time in their lives. These women are desperate to protect the lives of those most at risk in the ongoing crisis.

Women lead emergency food and dignity kit distribution in Qoyta region, Somaliland.
Women lead emergency food and dignity kit distribution in Qoyta region, Somaliland. Photograph: Holly Miller, ActionAid Australia

The impact of the drought on Somaliland’s communities has been extreme. The first two years were increasingly difficult, the women told me, but this last year has been the worst. After years of coping with dwindling water supplies – supplies required for business, for food preparation, for sanitation – it eventually evaporated almost entirely. Money ran out, animals died. With little to eat, whole communities became malnourished.

In Somaliland, those who were marginalised before the drought have experienced its greatest effects. In Saylabari, women have formed a collective to ensure that those most in need are the first to receive assistance when aid is distributed in their village.

And who are most affected? Women, they tell me. Women, who have long borne the brunt of a patriarchal system, and its brutish brother, poverty.

Singularly responsible for the care of their children, the stress that mothers have experienced in the drought has been severe. High rates of illiteracy among women who have been denied education means less access to information about what relief is on its way and who will have access to it.

Levels of domestic violence have increased significantly. Women whose husbands have left in search of alternative income are now responsible for providing for their families, as well as caring for them. Forced to forage for water in far off places, women are often raped on their journeys.

For those who migrate, the stories are worse. Over the past six months, people have left their homes in great numbers to search for water and for places their animals can graze on healthy vegetation. Leaving is a gamble –people leave in the hope that there is more sustenance further afield, but without any guarantee of finding it.

Somaliland’s experience of disaster is typical of any emergency insofar as it disproportionately affects women and those marginalised before the crisis. This is a well-recognised truth that should teach us an important lesson. The only way to prepare adequately for disasters of this scale is to address the deeply entrenched gender inequalities in access to resources and decision making.

One hundred kilometres from Saylabari and its women’s collective, a burgeoning women’s coalition have waged their own humanitarian response to the crisis in the village of Gorgeysa.

Women lead emergency food distribution in Qoyta region, Somaliland.
Their own community is unaffected by the drought, but the women’s coalition introduced a policy that every family in the community must take in two families. Chairwoman Ruun Essa Habane said, “We were receiving so many migrants – so many people who were searching for safety and for food and water. We had to work out how we could care for them.”

The collective pooled its resources, resources that the women had been saving over the three years that they have been working together. They used them to provide for those in their care. They donated clothes.

When I expressed my stunned (Australian) admiration, Essa Habane seemed surprised. “What else could we do?” she said. “We have the money.”

“The community cannot make decisions without us,” said Essa Habane. “We decided we wanted to support those affected by the drought and that was it.”

There is much that Australia could learn from the women of Somaliland and their response to the country’s protracted disaster. While the women in communities in Somaliland give up the little they have to support those who lack their basic needs, Australia struggles to respond humanely to the asylum seeker crisis that we have created.

Rather than responding with kindness to our fellow human beings, our politicians wallow in arguments about space and resources, postulating threats of terrorism and disseminating notions of greedy people jumping queues to grab “our” resources.

It’s worth considering how we might respond if our leadership wouldn’t primarily consist of white advantaged men, who struggle to see beyond the privilege that has always defined their lives, to empathise with those on the margins.

How long can Australia get away with this cruel and selfish response to those in need? Climate change is taking its toll – and it’s a toll that will eventually catch us up.

Extreme weather events are already leading to forced migration, in Somaliland and well beyond it, and in the years to come, millions of people will be on the move, in desperate search of food and water.

If we are to respond effectively to these impending crises – if we are, like the women of Gorgeysa and Saylabari, to ensure that nobody goes without, especially those most vulnerable – we must take action now to ensure that women are equally represented in leadership positions, and that they have the support to maintain them.

Women’s Collective leading humanitarian response in Gorgeysa, Somaliland.
Women’s Collective leading humanitarian response in Gorgeysa, Somaliland. Photograph: Holly Miller, ActionAid Australia

Female leaders create space for other women to take up leadership roles and to participate fully in decision making. They consistently make decisions that benefit whole communities, and ensure that everybody is considered and cared for.

At the end of every conversation I had with different women in Somaliland, they would ask me the same question: “What are things like for women in your country? What advice do you have for us as we strive for greater things – for presidency?”

All I could tell them was that in Australia, we’ve taken great steps forward but that the road ahead is long. I said that we could learn from them. That by supporting women’s leadership, perhaps we too, some day, might say, “What else could we do? We have the money.”

 

 

CHRIS SALAMONE

Toronto Real Estate’s ‘Scariest Chart Ever’ Is Looking Better

 

Several months ago, we presented the “scariest chart ever” for Toronto real estate owners.

It showed a steep decline in the city’s sales-to-new-listings ratio — a measure of how many of the city’s homes available for sale are being snapped up by buyers.

The ratio plunged off a cliff this spring following the province’s announcement of new housing rules that included a 15 per cent foreign speculators’ tax. It was a sign that Toronto’s house prices were about to plunge.

CAPITAL ECONOMICS

And plunge they did. The average price for all property types sold in Toronto has come down by about 20.5 per cent since it peaked in April. It was $732,292 in August, down from $920,791 at the top.

But according to BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic, the worst of the price collapse may now be in the past. Kavcic published an updated and seasonally adjusted version of the scariest chart ever, and the latest development is a small but noticeable bounce-back in the sales-to-new-listings ratio.

BANK OF MONTREAL

That bounce-back suggests “the market has started to balance out,” Kavcic told HuffPost Canada by phone. Prices could continue falling for several months, but the worst of it took place this past summer, he said.

Good news for those worried about losing the equity in their homes, bad news for homebuyers hoping for more affordable prices.

Rising interest rates a risk

 

But Kavcic did warn of one downside risk to his forecast: The Bank of Canada’s suddenly aggressive interest rate hikes.

Raising the cost of borrowing for mortgages “will affect the psychology of the market, and affordability as well,” Kavcic said.

With borrowers so used to rock-bottom interest rates, “it doesn’t take a lot of movement (in interest rates) to start altering affordability.”

Case in point: Ratehub.ca estimates that a 0.25 percentage point rate hike, like the one put in place by the Bank of Canada this week, would add $84 to the monthly cost of a variable-rate mortgage on average-priced Toronto home valued at $750,000.

“Since the beginning of 2017, variable rate mortgage consumers have had to increase monthly payments by $168 per month, or an additional $2,016 per year,” Ratehub said in a statement.

BMO has updated its forecast for interest rates in the wake of the bank’s hike on Wednesday. It now expects the Bank o

f Canada’s key lending rate to hit two per cent by the end of 2018. The bank’s current rate is one per cent, up from 0.75 per cent before Wednesday’s hike.

If the bank were to move more aggressively than expected in raising rates, “the impact on housing will be material,” Kavcic said.

 

CHRIS SALAMONE

 

Hurricane Irma: What you need to know about Boca garbage pickup, sandbags, shelters

Jorge Alarcon, of JA Landscaping, lifts a storm panel to install at the 120% Lino store at 333 Worth Avenue in Palm Beach to protect the business from Hurricane Irma in Palm Beach, September 6, 2017. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — As a record-breaking storm approaches Florida, with landfall expected Sunday, here’s what Boca Raton residents need to know about city services:

  • Garbage pickup: Collection services will continue through Friday, according to city officials. If material is missed on collection day, the city is urging residents to secure the waste until after the storm passes. City employees will not send trucks off-route for missed pickups.
  • Sand bags: The city does not offer sandbags to residents. If you’re searching for sandbags to secure your home, check local home-improvement chains, which re-stock supplies regularly, but run out quickly. Here are the closest shops to Boca Raton:
    • Lowe’s at 21870 SR 7, Boca Raton, FL 33428
    • Home Depot at 9820 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33434
    • Home Depot at 1400 Waterford Pl, Delray Beach, FL 33444
  • Bridge closures: Several residents have expressed concerns about bridges being locked in the upright position during the storm, city officials said. But the bridges will be down during and after the storm. Local authorities will notify boaters when the bridges will no longer rise.
  • City Hall closing: The Boca Raton City Hall, at 201 W Palmetto Park Rd, will close Friday, according to city officials.

  • Facilities, parks and beaches: All Boca Raton facilities, parks and beaches will too close by Friday, city officials say. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center will close noon Thursday. Other parks and beaches will close Friday.
  • Shelters: There are two hurricane shelters in and near Boca Raton: One at Boca Raton High School and another at West Boca High School. The shelters haven’t yet opened and are Palm Beach County-managed, Boca Raton officials say. Shelter questions should be directed here.

CHRIS SALAMONE

After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death-Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala answers questions during a news conference Friday in Orlando, Fla.
John Raoux/AP

A Florida state attorney gained national attention when she announced last March that her office would no longer seek the death penalty, setting up a months-long legal battle with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

That’s a battle State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Orlando has now lost, following a decision Thursday from the Supreme Court of Florida that the governor does have the authority to reassign first-degree-murder cases to a different prosecutor.

“Florida’s Republican governor has taken more than 25 cases away from Ayala, and lawmakers slashed her budget,” WMFE’s Abe Aboraya tells our Newscast unit.

In a news conference Friday, Ayala stated that she respects the decision and is setting up a death penalty review panel in her office to independently evaluate whether to seek the death penalty. She argues that this removes the rationale for reassigning her cases.

“I don’t think at this point there’s any basis to remove cases because I’m following the law,” Ayala told reporters.

The panel will be made up of six prosecuting attorneys along with the attorney assigned to prosecute the specific case. If they unanimously determine that it is appropriate to seek the death penalty, they will make the recommendation to Ayala.

“It is worth noting that I have invested my authority into the review panel and have no intention of usurping that authority which I granted,” Ayala added.

NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported on Ayala’s motivations when the case began:

“Ayala, who took office in January in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, is the first black elected prosecutor in Florida. She says the death penalty is broken and does not achieve justice for victims’ families. She didn’t campaign on capital punishment, but once in office said she had determined through research that pursuing the death penalty ‘is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice.’ ”

The state Supreme Court opinion states that “Ayala’s blanket refusal to seek the death penalty in any eligible case … does not reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it embodies, at best, a misunderstanding of Florida law.”

It’s not clear whether Scott will continue to reassign cases. Spokesman John Tupps told The Associated Press that Scott will “continue to review” Ayala’s actions, adding that “the governor must be convinced that the death penalty will be sought as outlined in Florida law, when appropriate.”