Florida Retailers Prepare for Hurricane Dorian With Sandbags and Early Closures

Puerto Rico may have been spared from the worst of Hurricane Dorian, but the storm is now headed to Florida and could land there as a Category 3 storm late Sunday or Monday morning, according to forecasts. Because storms like these are a common occurrence in the state, footwear retailers have emergency plans in place.

At Rieker Shoes in Winter Park, Fla., plans are to seal the interior storefront window and door with boxes and place sandbags along the exterior, according to Rich Rask, president of Rieker Shoe Corp., USA, which owns the flagship store. “We’re waiting to see where it tracks,” said Rask, who organized similar preparations for Hurricane Irma in 2017. “However, we have been fortunate,” he said, with the store avoiding any damage in the past.

In addition to readying the store, the company, which also operates a warehouse in nearby Orlando, has its crew remove all shoes from the floor of that building and place them on pallets.

In Tampa, Fla., Doris Carvalho, a sales associate at Next Step Shoes, said she did not expect any damage from the impending storm. In fact, she noted, while the weather reports predicted rain, there are currently sunny skies during on Thursday. “We go day by day,” she said.

Even though the hurricane is not expected to hit Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home of The Shoe Spa, president John Weingarten said he nonetheless has an emergency plan in place. “You don’t know until it happens, so we are prepared for the worst,” he said.

As with past events, the store will be putting up hurricane shutters and closing its doors to allow employees to head home early should the storm hit the city. “We’ve been here before and it’s the same routine,” he noted.

Charlie Slaton, co-owner of Carla’s Shoes and Accessories in Ponte Vedra, Fla., said while he didn’t expect the store to be in the hurricane’s path, its route could change. Meanwhile, he is ready with sandbags and will be taping up the store’s windows and praying for the best.

It was about two years ago, he recalled, that a storm hit towns in surrounding areas. And while it did not impact his store directly, roads had to be cleared from trees that had fallen and blocked access to his store.

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