Tampa Bay area beach towns brace for 1-2 punch from Irma

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay area beach towns are bracing for Irma’s “one-two punch” with the possibility of high winds and a dangerous storm surge.

Gulf Boulevard on Indian Shores is mostly vacant, except for heavy police presence.

Homes and businesses are boarded up.

Across the bridge in Seminole, workers closed the doors at a Rally store, not knowing when they’ll open again.

“It was busy because everything was closed. So right now, even cops were like ‘You need to leave,’ so it’s time to close and go home” said Rally clerk Sam Patel.

The convenience store is boarded up. A personal note on the plywood marks the event. It says “Irma 2017″ with a sad face.

While most are following advice to evacuate, some are planning to ride it out.

“The street does flood out front and depending on the surge and what time the tides comes in, we really need to look at that,” said Molly Mullens.

Millie Colon and her boyfriend have relatives in Puerto Rico. Both are sleeping at the Largo High shelter, after getting the advice, “When they saw it was coming this way they say, ‘Run for your life.'”

Even with a house fit for a Category 4 storm, Ron Tuttle is getting out.

“We don’t want to get stuck on the island. I mean I think we feel safe with the 3 to 5 surge, that’s expected but we don’t want to be stuck out here for days” said Tuttle.

Irma preps should be completed.

“We are all set on home. We got some last snacks too. So we’re all set for home,” said Sam Patel from Rally.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, Clearwater police will shut down all access to the beach at the Memorial Causeway and Gulf Boulevard.

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