Prepare, don't panic: Gainesville residents stocking up to prepare for Hurricane Irma

A Gainesville Walmart shelf has been emptied of water bottles as residents stock up in preparation for Hurricane Irma. (Josslyn Howard, WGFL)

Gainesville residents are stocking up in case Hurricane Irma decides to turn toward North Central Florida.

Several stores have reported they're already out of water, though they plan to get new shipments in over the next couple of days. Police are also reporting heavy traffic around stores.

Alachua County Emergency Management officials stress the importance of people preparing without panicking. "Currently, Irma is expected to impact Florida, but it is too soon to forecast potential impacts it will have on our area," officials said in a statement Tuesday.

The county is providing supplies for sandbags from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Wayside Park at 11855 NW U.S. Highway 441. You're asked to park in front of the Public Works building. Authorities be prepared to fill your own sandbags but staff will be available if you need assistance.

Alachua County residents are urged to sign up for emergency alerts here. Levy County residents can sign up here.

In the meantime, they say a basic emergency supply kit can include the following items.

• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• First aid kit

• Whistle to signal for help

• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

• Manual can opener for food

• Local maps

• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

• Food and water for pets

• Medications/medical supplies

• Items for small children/babies (diapers, formula, etc.)

Levy County Emergency Management has opened its public information lines to assist residents and visitors. You can call from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at at 352-486-5155 or 352-486-5576.

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