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Locals, Officials Prep Ahead Of Fred

Juana's Pagodas
Jennie McKeon
WUWF Public Media
A sign at Juana's Pagodas warns of hurricane debris from last year's Hurricane Sally.

With part of the local region under a tropical storm warning, residents are taking precautions, but not too worried about Fred.

Landfall of Tropical Storm Fred is expected to be near Panama City Beach Monday afternoon. As of 4 p.m. Sunday, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida Panhandle from Navarre to the Wakulla/Jefferson County line. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Navarre.

The biggest hazard for the Panhandle is flooding with a possible 6 to 8 inches of rain. A flash flood watch is also in effect for much of the Panhandle.

Juana’s Pagodas has been on Navarre Beach since 1989 and seen their share of storms. They started to take precautionary steps Sunday.

“We’re already getting umbrellas down and get all of the stools in (from outside) from the wind,” said Dani Hall, public relations specialist for Juana’s. “I think we might shorten our hours tomorrow but, you know, (the storm) keeps moving. We’ll follow along and plan accordingly.”

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan put the restaurant out of business for about five months. Last year’s Hurricane Sally also caused damage. Inside the restaurant are small plaques to mark the water lines from their worst storms.

At the Lowe’s in Gulf Breeze, there was little action around the storm prep items. Navarre resident, Charles Weston, said all he’s done to prepare for Fred was fill a few gas cans. Other than that, his storm kit has been ready since the start of hurricane season in June.

“I’ve got toilet paper, sanitizer, the freezer is full, generator, and portable air conditioner,” he said.

Other than the prep, he said the storm is “just another day” in Florida.

Gulf Breeze resident David Foy said he was finishing some preparations Sunday while shopping at Lowe’s.

“I’m not really worried, it looks like a lot of rain,” he said. “But I’ve got my boards already prepped. You don’t want to wait until the last minute.”

Escambia County and the City of Destin have already declared a state of emergency to take actions in protecting citizens and apply for reimbursement of expenses.

Santa Rosa County School District has announced that schools will be closed Monday, Aug. 16 including all after-school activities. The same goes for Okaloosa and Walton County. Escambia County School District remains open as of Sunday afternoon as well as Pensacola State College and The University of West Florida Pensacola campus. The UWF Emerald Coast campus is closed until 5 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16. Northwest Florida State College is also closed on Monday.

Mary Cerrano, manager at ACE Hardware in Navarre said she hasn’t seen a rush for hurricane supplies, but it may be too soon.

“I’m surprised more people aren’t freaking out right now because they usually do, especially if it’s coming up this way,” she said. “Maybe because it’s not a hurricane.”

Cerrano, however, said she’s ready.

“I don’t have to worry, about my windows because I have hurricane windows,” she added. “I’ve got my water, dog food — I’m set.”

For updates on Fred, follow WUWF and Florida Storms on Facebook and Twitter.

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.