Tampa, Fla. – (September 6, 2017) – Hillsborough County Public Schools will close Thursday and Friday, September 7 and 8, in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. In addition, all after-school programs and extracurricular activities are canceled for Thursday and Friday.
An experimental graphic produced by the National Hurricane Center shows the earliest time that tropical force winds from Hurricane Irma could reach various areas.
The latest graphic shows that most of the Tampa Bay area could begin experiencing the winds, which are 39 to 74 mph, by 8 p.m. Saturday.
Some customers who had hoped to use online ordering to help in their storm preparations were distressed at the news that Walmart has suspended grocery pickup services at stores in Florida for the duration of Hurricane Irma.
Walmart stores are restocking shelves by the hour its brick and mortar stores, but that didn't help Kim Roberts, 52, who had hoped to get bottled water, batteries and other supplies in by ordering them online Tuesday morning.
Throngs of people in the Walmart on 34th Street at First Avenue N. in St. Petersburg, turned their carts around and sped to the back of the store. Within minutes, the line wrapped from the beer cooler, past the dairy section, all the way to the deli — 39 customers who had almost given up hope.
"We weren't sure what to do," said Davon'ta Eastwood, 15, who was pushing the cart for his mom. "We'd been to five places already today and everyone's out."
"We don't want to stay," said his mom, Sierra, 35. "But we can't leave the animals. We have two dogs and two cats, one just had seven kittens." She said she was scared of the storm.
They'd never been in a hurricane. "But at least now, if it hits here, we'll have water."
A truck had delivered 10 more pallets of Aquafina — 600 cases — 19,200 bottles, 16.9-oz each. A St. Petersburg police officer made sure each customer took only two cases. People stacked them on strollers, balanced them on their heads; scooter users laid them across their laps.
At 1:25 p.m., Austin Francis, 22, and his friend Jacob Waite, 24, got the last two cases and pushed past a dozen disappointed people.
"We're just trying to hang on here," said Francis. "This is the stuff of life."
Wal-Mart Manager Benson McClure promised more water was on its way. But he had no idea when.
— Lane DeGregory, Times staff writer