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Emergency Responders In Hollywood, Fla., Prepare For Hurricane Irma

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Earlier today, I spoke with the emergency management coordinator for the city of Hollywood, Fla. It's on the Atlantic coast just north of Miami.

Jaime Hernandez, thank you for joining us.

JAIME HERNANDEZ: Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: First, describe what the scene is in town right now. I know parts of the city are under mandatory evacuation orders.

HERNANDEZ: That is correct. I'm happy to report that thus far reports are, you know, to us here at the emergency operations center that the evacuation is going through fairly smoothly. Our residents seem to be overall heeding the evacuation orders. And our city's emergency answer center are operating around the clock, fielding phone calls from residents. And we are - we're fully staffed right now.

SHAPIRO: I know you have a lot of retirees in South Florida. What kinds of provisions are you making for people who might be under evacuation orders but not be very mobile?

HERNANDEZ: We have - we have a vulnerable population registry that we did a call-down for yesterday. There was approximately 200 residents who were on that list. These are residents who are frail, may have some mobility issues. And as a courtesy, any of them who requested transportation to a local shelter, we went ahead and provided that for them.

SHAPIRO: I know there are a lot of construction projects in South Florida, and officials in some cities have said people should beware of cranes that are many stories high that could be knocked down during a storm. Is that a concern where you are?

HERNANDEZ: Yes. We do have a couple of locations, a few locations - I want to say about four in Hollywood - that are construction sites with cranes. We have - through our office of public affairs and our building department, we have tried to notify residents in those areas within I want to say it's a two or three-block radius of the areas with the cranes that there is, you know, the existence of a crane in their area and they need to be aware of that. You know, obviously we just want our residents to be aware and prepared. And obviously that's something that was a concern for us, so we went ahead and put out some public messaging advising residents of that.

SHAPIRO: If the city has a weak spot right now, what are you concerned it might be?

HERNANDEZ: I would say the flooding. I mean the low-lying areas. Hollywood is very flood-prone. You know, many parts, particularly at seaside, you know, there's a mandatory evacuation order in place. And they need to heed that. It's for their safety because if they do stay, they're staying at their own risk. And once the sustained winds reach 45 miles per hour, our first responders are going to take, you know, shelter and they're not going to - they're not going to be able to go out and help them regardless of what's happening. So, you know, flooding is - I would say is the biggest concern. And that's something we're obviously monitoring.

SHAPIRO: Jaime Hernandez is emergency management coordinator for Hollywood, Fla. Stay safe. Thank you for talking with us.

HERNANDEZ: Thank you very much for having me.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

If you are in Florida or anywhere along the East Coast where Irma is expected to hit, we want to hear from you. Tell NPR how you're preparing. Are you staying put, evacuating? What are you most concerned about? Contact us at npr.org/irma. Or you can email us at irma@npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.