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Floridians prepare, but don't panic, as Ian's storm track shifts

Young boys sell popcorn at a table outside with women standing behind them.
Kerry Sheridan
WUSF Public Media
Levi Metzgar, 8, (center) says he has never been through a hurricane before — at least that he remembers. His mom (to his right) says he was three when Hurricane Irma hit.

Many stores had plenty of water and supplies on hand Sunday in the greater Tampa Bay region, days before the expected arrival of Ian.

In a region that's largely avoided major hurricanes for the last 100 years, it was largely business as usual at some hardware stores and grocery stores Sunday.

"I'm a little worried. I've never been in a hurricane that I actually remember," said eight-year-old Levi Metzgar, outside a Publix grocery store in Sarasota where he was selling popcorn to raise money for his boy scout troop.

His mom, Ashley, says he was three when Hurricane Irma hit. She did most of her storm shopping Saturday,

"Today I feel like it's not as crazy," she said of the foot traffic at Publix Sunday morning.

"You are seeing people go out with water, but I don't see any crazy amount of stuff going out. It kind of looks like some normal shopping."

Kerry Sheridan
Winn Dixie on Bee Ridge in Sarasota had plenty of water in stock on Sunday

Outside a Winn Dixie in Sarasota, Marie Amos bought groceries, but not because of the storm.

"We are just buying regular stuff because we saw it is really not going to affect us that much, so we didn't do anything particular for the storm," she said.

"It's trending west, we have looked at the models and only a few of them look like they are going to impact us, everything else says it is going to be the Panhandle," said her husband, Greg.

At a nearby Lowe's Home Improvement store, the parking lot was half-empty.

"I'm not in a state of panic," said Ariel Odell as he lifted a couple of planks of plywood into his truck. They could cover his front door glass if needed.

"I'm having it just in case, I'm not even putting it up."

Uncertainty in the hurricane models have made it difficult for people to know how seriously to take Ian — but emergency management officials are urging people to stock up with food, water and medicine.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.