The lights are on but the gas is gone.
West Palm Beach, Florida.
As Tropical Storm Ernesto’s outer rain bands reached the shores of the Florida Keys this morning…residents all over greater West Palm Beach were asking themselves if they needed to bother preparing for a ‘wimpy’ Tropical Storm.
This gas station at Southern Blvd. and Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach had an unmarked police highway patrol car directing traffic.
Driving around West Palm Beach this morning showed that the long gas lines yesterday did their share to deplete local gasoline supplies. If you could find gas in West Palm Beach this morning you could expect to find lines as well.
Out of a dozen gas stations that I drove by, only two had gas, and both stations had medium sized lines. The local grocery store had ample supplies of everything, except soda – especially diet soda, while water, ice, batteries and perishables were fully stocked. Apparently, when the power goes out from a visiting storm, we prefer to drink warm diet soda over water here in West Palm Beach.
Ernesto Approaches — Cuillo Centre For The Performing Arts on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Cuillo Centre For The Arts, which anchors Clematis Street, was among the local establishments protecting their windows with plywood supplies from last Hurricane Season, while children (mine actually) played in the kids water Fountain.The story from this South Florida community is that we don’t really know what Ernesto will bring as it moves across 86-degree water in the Florida Straits. There’s not a lot of room, or time, for Ernesto to grow into a stronger storm, but that’s not to say that we’re not watching Ernesto like a hawk.
As it stands, West Palm Beach residents appear unprepared for anything more than a Tropical Storm or very weak Hurricane. Even strong Tropical storm winds of 39-73 miles per hour can, and do cause a lot of damage when homes and businesses are unprotected. If a larger storm does materialize, it will likely leave us bruised, battered, and battling our fellow residents for water, ice, gasoline, propane, and everything else that we Hurricane Country natives treasure.
The Home Depot on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. in West Palm Beach had plenty of parking this morning.
A trip over to the Palm Beach Lakes Blvd Home Depot showed that locals were either well prepared already, or weren’t bothering with plywood or batteries – perhaps in the belief (or hope) that the latest forecasts for a Tropical Storm or weak Category 1 Hurricane will be accurate.
In downtown, on West Palm Beach’s version of Main Street, known here as Clematis Street, the Starbucks was a little busier than usual with displaced commuters who had wisely chosen to opt out of their regular commutes. I overheard one patron on her cell phone explaining that schools were closed and she was working from home today (home being synonymous with Starbucks apparently). Further down Clematis Street some shops were installing plywood and steel shutters but the majority were unprotected.