With maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, the Category 4 storm has been classified as “potentially catastrophic” by the National Hurricane Center. It hit the region around 12:30 p.m. CT and could bring a storm surge of up to 14 feet in some coastal areas.
In Panama City, some shoe stores decided to play it safe and close shop. Payless ShoeSource, Shoe Dept. Encore and Sunset Shoes and Lifestyle did not answer their phones when FN reached out. Similarly, Finish Line did not pick up a call.
On the other hand, DSW in Tallahassee said via its store phone’s voicemail recording that it had closed at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and would remain so until further notice.
In Pensacola, DSW’s store message informed callers that it would also remain closed until the area was deemed safe for customers and associates.
Shoe Station, also in Pensacola, opened today. According to assistant store manager Dana Wimmers, traffic was lighter than usual, likely due to the closing of other stores in the shopping center. She added that local officials did not order an evacuation since the city was far enough inland to not be currently affected. However, Wimmers shared that the area is “underneath cloud cover, and there is rain and winds but not hurricane-force winds.”
Elsewhere in Florida, evacuation efforts have already taken place, with government officials now warning citizens who have chosen to stay or were unable to flee to prepare for major devastation expected to come with heavy rains, strong winds and flash flooding.
“This is the worst storm that our Florida Panhandle has seen in a century,” Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference at the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee. “Hurricane Michael is upon us, and now is the time to seek refuge.”
In addition to Florida, the governors of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have declared emergencies for parts of their states that could potentially affect tens of millions of residents.
Weather reports indicate that Hurricane Michael is expected to move inland across the Florida Panhandle today and across both southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia tonight. It will move off the mid-Atlantic coast on Friday, when it is forecasted to become a post-tropical cyclone.
Shoe Stores in Hurricane Michael’s Path Are Staying Open for Now