WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The city of West Palm Beach issued a voluntary evacuation order to its 99,919 residents Wednesday, but many stayed behind to take their chances Hurricane Matthew.
“We’ll make it," said Eric Story, who finished shuttering up his home Wednesday. “I mean, the house is sturdy. The storm surge shouldn’t be too bad."
Story and his wife, Cristl, have lived in West Palm Beach for five years, but Hurricane Matthew marked the first time they had to prepare their home for a natural disaster.
The storm brought rain off and on Wednesday night, but the day was calm: On Story’s street, children played in the water and ran through sprinklers, and adult neighbors helped one another stock up and bunker down for the impending hit.
According to other West Palm Beach residents, essential supplies like gas and bottled water vanished from store shelves over the course of the day; volunteer organizations like the American Red Cross, including members from Cincinnati, will distribute emergency supplies to hurricane-affected areas after the storm hits.
Story and his neighbors are determined to tough it out.
“We expect to lose power," said Jon Harris, who has lived in West Palm Beach for more than a decade. "We just hope it comes back quickly. A couple of days without power’s kind of fun; a couple of weeks is misery.
"But everybody who’s here, we’re going be here."