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Bermuda prepares to batten down the hatches

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Gorham’s store employee Marco Santos (centre), restacks tables of batteries and flashlights as people visited the store to buy hurricane supplies in preparation for Hurricane Fiona. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda is already preparing for Hurricane Fiona, scheduled to bring a period of hurricane-force winds in the early hours of Friday.

There was a line out the door at Masters Home Centre on Dundonald Street West, Hamilton, when the store opened on Wednesday morning.

“We have had a steady flow of customers,” Masters vice-president of retail and merchandising G Shawn Grant said. “There was a line when I arrived this morning. It died out at about 10.30am.”

Waiting for Fiona: People in the Town of St George boarding up ahead of Hurricane Fiona (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

He put the hustle and bustle down to the store’s weekly senior discount day on Wednesday.

By the end of the day, Masters was almost sold out of radios and camp stoves.

The usual hurricane readiness items such as tarpaulins, ropes and batteries were also moving quickly.

Mr Grant said they planned to close at 5pm on Thursday and will open on Friday when the Government gives the all clear.

Customers started lining up for hurricane supplies at Masters Home Centre yesterday morning (Photograph supplied)

Sacha Bearden, chief executive officer of Baptiste Limited in Warwick, said customers were split between people panicking over the impending storm and those who saw a day off on Friday as time to get that project finished.

“People are buying the things you expect, such as flashlights and batteries,” she said. “But then there are people who are carrying right on with their projects and want us to mix a gallon of paint so they can paint the living room.”

But she said things were relatively calm in the store.

“Call me tomorrow and I probably won’t have time to answer the phone,” she said.

People are also starting to prepare their backyards and properties for a storm.

David McCann, of Bermuda Arborist, has been reminding people to get their trees trimmed for months.

“There are some people that thought ahead,” Mr McCann said. “But there are always the last-minute people who are definitely bombarding my phone.”

In fact, he said while his crews have been out, some people have been flagging down the truck to beg for help with their overgrown trees.

“When we do a small job, neighbours will come out and say, ‘I have been trying to reach someone to help me with my trees’,” he said. “I have to take care of people who scheduled jobs ahead of time.”

Mr McCann said ideally people should schedule tree maintenance before storms start coming.

A Bermuda Arborist staff member trimming a casuarina. These trees can be a problem in a storm due to their tall height and shallow root system (Photograph supplied)

This is the busiest time of the year for Mr McCann and his team.

He said because there was no major storm last year to shake up Bermuda’s trees and bushes, there is the possibility of a lot of vegetation coming down in this storm.

“A lot of vegetation is quite overgrown right now,” he said.

He said casuarinas can be a problem because they can grow quite high, but only have a shallow root system.

“Mexican pepper trees also can grow tall and fast very quickly and get into power lines,” he said. “They really need to be kept short on an island like Bermuda where we experience heavy winds.”

Wine and liquor stores have also been busy this last week.

Simon Carruthers, of Discovery Wines, has seen an uptick in online orders since it was announced that Hurricane Fiona would be approaching Bermuda.

“But people are being responsible about it,” Mr Carruthers said. “Our only concern is making sure our customers get their orders in on time so we can get it to them before the storm.”

He said when the winds start to pick up they will not want to jeopardise the safety of their drivers.

“That is why we sent an e-mail out earlier in the week reminding people to get their orders in before the storm,” he said.

Mr Carruthers said so far customers are mainly buying wine to help them to ride out the boredom of the storm.

He said Thursday at 10.30am was the deadline for placing orders for delivery before the storm.

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Published September 22, 2022 at 7:47 am (Updated September 22, 2022 at 7:48 am)

Bermuda prepares to batten down the hatches

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