Some Florida RV dealers and campgrounds, including Lazydays RV SuperCenter in the Tampa suburb of Seffner, planned to be closed Friday as hurricane Charley bore down on the Sunshine State.
Lazydays announced its closure in a Thursday afternoon press release. “The latest forecast for hurricane Charley calls for it to pass over the Tampa Bay area,” the press release said. “Due to concern for the safety of our customers and employees, Lazydays will be closed Friday. The dealership plans to reopen Saturday.”
Bruce Oelker, a sales rep for RV World of Lakeland about 10 miles northeast of Tampa, said although Thursday afternoon was sunny and 92 degrees, the dealership also would close on Friday. “If you’re close to the eye, there’s nothing you can do,” Oelker said, noting that it would take quite a wind to move a diesel-pusher motorhome. “We’re not worried about that. We’ve pretty much secured everything in the dealership, so we are ready.”
Of more concern, he said, is RV World’s main location at Nokomis, south of Sarasota, which is at about 2 feet elevation. “They’re within 500 yards of the bay there, so that is a worry,” Oelker said. Although his store is not far from Lazydays, Mark Elbrecht, owner of Fountain RV, Lakeland, said he didn’t intend to close. “We’re even lining up service people so that we can help (RV owners) after the storm with any repairs,” Elbrecht said. “We don’t want people to be without power, air conditioning or water. We’re going to have people on call.”
Dick Whalen, owner of Dunedin RV Resort in Dunedin, said RVers staying at his 233-site park moved inland on Thursday when about 800,000 people from the Florida Keys to Tampa Bay were urged to evacuate as the state braced for Charley, which was expected to strike land with 100 mph winds, heavy rain and tornadoes. The hurricane headed toward Florida as Tropical Storm Bonnie blew inland on the Florida Panhandle, marking the first time since 1906 that back-to-back storms have struck Florida so close together. Four to 8 inches of rain were expected from Charley.