Orange County, Orlando officials provide update on Tropical Storm Nicole preparations

Orlando and Orange County officials provided an update on their preparations for Tropical Storm Nicole, which is scheduled to pass through the area overnight.

During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and representatives from a variety of county and city departments, provided details about the impending storm, which comes just six weeks after Hurricane Ian.

Citing the most recent estimates available from the National Hurricane Center, Demings says that most of the county will receive between four to six inches of rain, with some areas receiving as much as eight inches of rain.

“At this time, there are no mandatory evacuation orders that will be issued. Given the most recent updates by the national weather service, we should not see the type of flooding that we saw with Hurricane Ian,” said Demings.

Officials indicated that particular areas of concern that are susceptible to flooding, including the community of Orlovista, are currently being pumped to lower water levels in anticipation of the rainfall.

“We base our plans upon how much rainfall is anticipated and then we also base our plans upon the potential wind damage,” said Demings. He explained that regardless of the storm, the county consistently tries to lower the water level at various bodies of water in the area. However, multiple bodies of water are still dealing with high water marks due to Hurricane Ian.

Just six weeks ago, flood waters ravaged dozens of homes in the Orlovista community, leaving residents looking for answers. During government meetings that followed the storm, multiple residents expressed concerns with the state of the community, which saw similar flooding just five years prior on account of Hurricane Irma.

Demings says that the storm will bring wind gusts that are predicted to reach up to 75 mph, from midnight until around 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 10.

Officials say that over 100,000 sandbags were distributed in preparation for the storm and that all distribution locations have been closed in preparation.

Curbside collection of debris and trash in unincorporated Orange County has stopped, and landfill and transfer stations are currently closed through tomorrow. Demings reiterated that nothing should be left at the curbs tomorrow, and that collection schedules should resume on Friday.

Mayor Dyer stated that the Orlando Emergency Operations Center will go to level 1 at 6 p.m. tonight, after the city declared a state of emergency earlier in the day. All nonessential city offices in Orlando will close on Thursday.

Multiple shelters for individuals needing to evacuate or seek shelter from the storm are now open, including one at South Econ Community Park (3850 South Econlockhatchee Trail), and another at West Orange Recreation Center (309 South West Crown Point Road) in Winter Garden.

Currently, parking garage fees are being waived at four downtown facilities for passenger vehicles. Those vehicles may be parked free of charge until noon on Friday, according to Dyer. The parking garages included are Central Boulevard Garage (53 West Central Boulevard), Jefferson Street Garage (62 West Jefferson Street), Library Garage (112 East Central Boulevard), and the Orange County Administration Garage (300 Liberty Avenue)

Orange County Public Schools say that all busses will be back in the bus bay by 6 p.m. tonight, and that school sites will not have any extracurricular activities or extended programs through the rest of the week. Pending a damage assessment that will be conducted Friday, employees and students are scheduled to return on Monday, November 14.

Duke Energy representatives say that 5,000 resources have been mobilized throughout central Florida, having come from multiple states in anticipation of the storm. The company is currently operating four staging sites in the area and will address power outages as soon as it is safe to do so.

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