BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Brevard County Emergency Management Office on Thursday morning announced a mandatory evacuation order, which will be implemented at 3 p.m. Friday, for portions of the county.
The order was issued for Evacuation Zone A, which includes the barrier islands, Merritt Island and some low-lying areas of the mainland along the Indian River Lagoon, officials said.
“You want to be safe than sorry. That's where it's at,” resident Tammy Oxley said. “We are doing the best we can, and we hope everything goes good. We are praying, that's all we can do is pray and hope and hope we come back to something nice.”
Oxley's 80-year-old father has lived in his home for a decade. He repaired his home after Hurricane Matthew, but it still needs a new roof.
“A lot of people just got new homes in here, and it's sad, or repairs, and now it's a year later. It's sad. It's terrible,” Oxley said.
The biggest worry in Oxley’s neighborhood is the storm surge. The water is already high and dangerously close to the homes.
Health First Hospital plans to evacuate a majority of its patients Friday from Health First's Cape Canaveral Hospital, officials announced Thursday.
“Safety is our top priority, and we prepare for these types of situations,” Matthew Gerrell, vice president of marketing and communications said. “As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, Health First is taking all of the necessary safety precautions. With Cape Canaveral Hospital being located on a barrier island, we felt the evacuation was needed to ensure the safety of our patients.”
See evacuation routes below:
"Those who live in mobile or manufactured homes or in other flood-prone areas are also vulnerable and should evacuate whether on the mainland or the barrier islands," county spokesman Don Walker said.
Officials urge residents to prepare their homes and to take shelter before the arrival of tropical storm-force winds, which are expected Saturday night.
The following shelters will open at 3 p.m. Friday:
Port St. John Community Center, 6650 Corto Road, Port St. John
Viera Regional Community Center, 2300 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera
Wickham Park Community Center, 2815 Leisure Way, Melbourne
Ted Whitlock Community Center at Fred Poppe Regional Park, 1951 Malabar Road NW, Palm Bay
General population shelters:
Apollo Elementary School, 3085 Knox McRae Drive, Titusville
Imperial Estates Elementary School, 900 Imperial Estates Lane, Titusville
Space Coast Junior/Senior High, 6150 Banyan St., Port St John
Walter Butler Community Center at Bernice Jackson Park, 4201 U.S. Highway 1, Cocoa
Manatee Elementary School, 3425 Viera Blvd., Viera
Sherwood Elementary School, 2541 Post Road, Melbourne
Melbourne High School, 74 Bulldog Blvd., Melbourne
Meadowlane Intermediate Elementary School, 2700 Wingate Blvd., West Melbourne
Heritage High School, 2351 Malabar Road, Palm Bay
Bayside High School, 1901 DeGroodt Road S.W., Palm Bay
South Mainland Community Center, 3700 Allen Ave., Micco
Special-needs shelters will also open on Friday. Phone calls to registered clients will be made Thursday once county employees determine which residents will require transportation through Space Coast Area Transit buses, Walker said.
Shelters will provide food, but residents will need to bring their own supplies, including bedding, folding chairs or sleeping bags; medications; multiple changes of clothing and sturdy shoes; personal hygiene items; and entertainment, such as games, cards, books or magazines.
Officials said residents who don't plan to stay in public shelters are urged to stay with relatives or friends on the mainland, and to evacuate tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles, because of heavy traffic.
Call the county's community information hotline at 211 for further details.