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Preparing condos for Erika

Manager of Acquilus Condos says he starts preparing every June

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Tropical Storm Erika is making her way towards Florida, several businesses at the beach are preparing for the worst. The manager at the Acquilus Condos in Jacksonville Beach says he starts preparing every June for hurricane season and is prepping even more now, just in case Erika brings bad weather to our area.

About 48 homeowners have a condo here in this building and it's as close to the ocean as you can get in Jacksonville Beach. We spoke with some people over breakfast Wednesday morning and not only are local businesses preparing for Erika -- but homeowners are as well.

"We evacuated before mandatory evacuation," said Richard Forbis. He has lived in Ponte Vedra Beach for 33 years and hopes he doesn't have to ever go through another hurricane evacuation like he did for Hurricane Floyd, back in 1999. He's keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Erika. "I have several tracking devices and I do track them very closely. I'm a little concerned that some part of Florida- maybe I just might get it but I'm not panicking yet," said Forbis.

He is one of several people in our area preparing for possible severe weather. Reggie Davis is the manager of the beach front Acquilis Condos in Jacksonville Beach. He monitors weather conditions year round but is paying especially close attention to Erika, making sure the generator is ready and storm drains are clear.

"We're always thinking about. If there's a storm surge we may have to send back things so we make preparations for what this building has, what they call blowout walls so it doesn't come down if the storm surge. This building, the garages is where this blowout walls are- it was engineered that way for us," said Davis.

With many of his residents only living here part time, he says he always encourages them to let him know whether they will be in town during a tropical storm or hurricane- and to have a plan in place if evacuations are necessary. He has a contingency plan that he updates every year and has contractor information ready to go in case he needs help with plumbing, electric, cleanup or anything else after a bad storm.

"The more prepared you are, the better you will be able to deal with that. You can't wait until the storm hits you have to be way in advance. So this contingency plan, I've drawn up that I use for the building I updated every year," said Davis.

He's hoping Erika will take it easy on our area and Forbis is making sure his hurricane preparedness kit is ready to go.

"We have water, we usually buy more batteries for flashlights, we have lantern that we can use, food -a lot of peanut butter," said Forbis.

The manager of these condos has been here for 10 years and has 30 years of experience with an Alabama fire department. He says there they dealt with tornadoes -- so he says at least with hurricanes he has more time to prepare.