Tropical Storm Nicole sends Brevard residents scrambling for sandbags

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By 7:55 a.m. Tuesday, 86 vehicles idled in a line winding through Wickham Park, with occupants waiting to pick up sandbags in advance of Tropical Storm Nicole's looming potential hurricane-strength strike.  Jumbo Bag 1 Ton

Tropical Storm Nicole sends Brevard residents scrambling for sandbags

On Election Day — during the second week of November.

"Out of nowhere," Palm Bay resident Dorothy Gouldbourne said, waiting for sandbags inside her red sports-utility vehicle alongside her chihuahua Tango.

"But you know what? We're due. We are due. It's been years. We haven't had any," Gouldbourne said of hurricanes in Brevard County

"So we have to make preparations — and bite the bullet," she said.

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The Wickham Park sandbag site opened at 8 a.m. The National Hurricane Center predicts Nicole will reach Category 1 hurricane intensity Wednesday near the northwestern Bahamas, then make landfall by late Wednesday night somewhere along the Space Coast or Treasure Coast.

"Residents should NOT let hurricane fatigue or wishful thinking prevent them from taking the necessary protective actions. Now is the time to prepare!" Melbourne National Weather Service officials tweeted Tuesday morning.

Brevard County Public Works and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office are offering 10 free sandbags per vehicle until 6 p.m. Tuesday at a pair of distribution sites:

• Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne. Enter the park using the Parkway Drive entrance.

• Across from the Brevard County Jail Complex, 855 Camp Road, Sharpes.

Supervised jail inmate work crews fill the sandbags, and bags are provided.

"As a reminder, sandbags can be purchased at home improvement stores and filled with dirt from your property. Do not fill sandbags with sand from the beach," a press release said.

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In Titusville, sandbags are available until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the city public works facility at 385 N. Singleton Ave. Residents can receive 10 sandbags, which they will need to fill themselves.

Beachside, sandbags were available until 1 p.m. at the Satellite Beach Sports & Recreation Park for residents of Indian Harbour Beach and Satellite Beach (including unincorporated Satellite Beach).

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nicole was a large tropical cyclone packing maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, the NHC reported. The storm was located about 420 miles east of West Palm Beach, and it was tracking west at 9 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 380 miles from the center.

“My big concern right now is, this storm hasn’t got a lot of hype. A lot of people haven’t been paying attention to it," Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Monday afternoon during a Brevard County Emergency Management video update.

'We’ve got so many other things going on," Ivey said.

In anticipation of Nicole’s high winds and heavy rainfall, Brevard Public Schools and Eastern Florida State College canceled all activities, events, and programs for Wednesday and Thursday. Both institutions will also close Friday for Veterans Day.

National Weather Service forecasters expect Nicole's heavy storms and squalls to dump 4 to 6 inches of rain — with localized totals reaching about 8 inches — from coastal Brevard westward across the St. Johns River basin.

"Urban and poor drainage flooding is increasingly likely, especially where the water table remains high," a NWS hurricane statement said.

Melbourne resident Michael Giammarino waited in line for sandbags Tuesday morning at Wickham Park to prevent flooding around his home's drain spout, which backs up. Then after picking up sandbags, he planned to vote.

"I've only been in Florida four years, and they say hurricane season's till the end of November. So I guess we're still in the season," Giammarino said.

Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY (for more of his stories, click here.) Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or Twitter: @RickNeale1

Tropical Storm Nicole sends Brevard residents scrambling for sandbags

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