Floridians on High Alert: Now is ‘Get Ready’ time

Tommy Yoder, left, of the T&D Family of Companies, and Steve Munz, CEO of Galaxy Home Solutions, prepare sandbags for Sumter County residents. For more on the storm, see Pages A8-10.

The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Hurricane Dorian is projected to become a “major hurricane” today and is expected to “remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend.” Here’s what you need to know to ride out the storm safely. 

How can I track the storm locally?

Listen for regular updates on WVLG 102.7 FM & 640 AM, follow the Daily Sun on Facebook or download the free Daily Sun Mobile app and enable push notifications. Sumter County residents can sign up for alerts at sumterprepares.com; Marion County residents can sign up at alertmarion.com; and Lake County residents can sign up at alertlake.com.

What’s open locally?

Villages officials have announced that all outdoor recreation facilities will be closed at 5 p.m. Saturday and likely will remain closed through Tuesday. Residents should not enter any facility until it has been opened by The Villages Public Safety Department. Sign up to receive electronic alerts at districtgov.org.

What about my weekend travel plans?

Check with your airline — most have said they will waive change and cancellation fees for certain dates. Dorian has also forced some cruise lines to change their itineraries, so call before you go.

Are the schools closing?

As of Thursday, The Villages Charter School, Villages Elementary of Lady Lake, Wildwood Elementary School and Wildwood Middle High School have no plans to cancel school beyond the Labor Day holiday. Officials will relay updates through the schools’ websites, email and phone alert systems.

Are we already out of gas and other hurricane supplies?

Although some pumps have gone dry and water has been flying off store shelves, retailers say they’re getting extra deliveries through the weekend. If you don’t find basic supplies immediately available at the grocery store, try your nearby drugstore, dollar store or home improvement store.

Should I go to a shelter?

Only as a last resort if you live in a mobile or manufactured home or in a low-lying area prone to flooding. There are no shelters open yet in Sumter, Marion or Lake counties, and it’s not safe to line up outside them.

Why aren’t recreation centers open as shelters?

These facilities aren’t designed to withstand hurricane conditions.

Why isn’t The Villages Charter School open as a shelter?

The private facility is not a Red Cross-managed shelter like some other public schools in buildings built with tax dollars. Also, VCS has historically stayed open or opened sooner than other area schools to enable the children’s parents to get back to work keeping the community running.

What if I lose power?

Report outages to Duke Energy at 800-228-8485, or to Sumter Electric Cooperative (SECO) Energy at 800-732-6141, depending on your service provider. Use battery-operated lights instead of candles to avoid fire risk.

How can I get debris removed?

Lady Lake, Wildwood and Fruitland Park will dispatch cleanup crews as soon as it is safe. Call 844-965-1386 or visit crisiscleanup.org for free help from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To volunteer to work the hotline, visit the church at 12975 SE 55th Ave., Belleview, on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

What about calling 911?

Only if you have a true emergency that merits dispatching first responders. For other concerns, Villages residents can contact Community Watch at 352-753-0550. The non-emergency number for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office is 352-569-1600. The non-emergency number for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is 352-343-2101. The non-emergency number for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office is 352-732-9111.

Will my tap water be OK to drink?

Yes, as as long as you have not received a precautionary boil water notice.

What do I do if there is dangerous wildlife in my area?

Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-3922. If the animal is domestic, it is best to call your local animal control office. In Lake County, that number is 352-343-9688; in Sumter County, it is 352-689-4400; in Marion County it is 352-671-8700.

What do I do if my pet is missing?

Don’t go out in dangerous conditions to search for it. If your pet is microchipped, immediately call your microchipping company to report your pet as lost. The phone number for YOUR Humane Society SPCA in Sumter County is 352-793-9117. Lake County Animal Shelter can be reached at 352-343-9688. Marion County residents can call 352-873-7387 to reach the Humane Society of Marion County.

What can I do now to help?

Blood donations now ensure supplies during and after the storm. All blood types are needed, but there is an increased need for O Negative and O Positive blood and platelet donations. The Villages Donor Center, 1550 Bella Cruz Drive, is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Call 352-750-4088 for information.