With Hurricane Irma currently projected on a path that could—if it remains on course—devastate portions of South Florida, John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine is reporting that his facility in Miami is no longer accepting boats for storage in advance of the storm. Tomlinson, who co-owns the business with Mike Thomas, said that his company's phones have not stopped ringing all week, and it’s reached the point where his staff is too busy working in the storage facility to answer them.
TNT Custom Marine is out of storage space—inside and outside—with Hurricane Irma currently predicted to make landfall in Florida sometime this weekend.
“I have taken in 50 boats and probably turned away 150,” he said. “We’ll have every rack full and every inch of space of floor in our storage barn taken. We’ll have eight big boats, too big to bring inside, blocked up outside. This place will be stuffed. We employees are here working instead of taking care of their own homes. I'm not sure it's worth it."
Tomlinson said he’s not sure how the facility will fare if Hurricane Irma, Currently rated at Category 5 but predicted to drop to Category 4 if makes landfall in Florida, strikes the Miami area directly.
“I have no clue,” he said. “I have no idea. We could be fine. We could be a pile of rubble. When Hurricane Wilma hit 10 years ago we had some damage to the roof and a door, but nothing major. If we have 100-mph winds here we’ll probably loose some siding. If we have 150-mph winds, there’s no telling. When Wilma hit, we were mostly OK but the old Sunny Isles Marina facility was knocked down. You never know.
“They’re talking about us getting hit on Sunday,” he continued. “I hope it skirts east. The most destructive winds are within 50 miles of the eye of the storm. If the eye skirts east of us, we could be OK. But if the eye passes directly over Miami, I don’t know."
Because TNT has its own fuel pumps and in-ground tanks, the company’s employees have been able to avoid the long lines, some in excess of two hours, for gasoline in South Florida.
“We were able to fill all of our employees gas tanks,” said Tomlinson. “It’s strange. At one gas station, you’ll see a two-hour line, and then you’ll go around the corner and see one with two cars in it. People see gas and they think they won’t be able get it anywhere else, so they line up.
“One of my employees, who is from Turkey, got so scared he said, ‘Sorry boss, I’m leaving the state,” he continued. “It took him 10 hours to reach Orlando yesterday. And he's headed to Atlanta. But I don’t know what you do. I don’t know how you prepare any better. I’ve been looking at this storm for 10 to 12 days. You look at it, and you just don’t know where it’s going. There are so many people down here. And there are still millions of boats on the water.”