PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. -- It was a picture perfect afternoon in Pensacola Beach, but many are taking steps to prepare for a potentially damaging tropical storm.
People spent Saturday soaking up the sun, even as Tropical Storm Karen churns toward the coastal community.
The storm is weakening as it approaches the Panhandle. But that's not stopping folks here from preparing for Karen's wrath.
Action News traveled across Flordia to track the storm's progress. We found a local hardware store in downtown Pensacola that wasn't taking any chances.
The owners of Pensacola Hardware closed up shop and hammered 35 wooden boards to the storefront. They also placed more than two dozen sandbags in front of its doors.
It was an inconvenience for customer Carey Fatheree, who came to buy paintbrushes. "It's a good, old hardware store you just run around the corner for."
But the lifelong Panhandle resident knows these preparations come with the territory.
"Of course after Ivan a lot of people just don't chance it," said Fatheree.
Back at the beach, local lifeguards pulled watch towers away from the shoreline and placed tarps around the perimeter for protection.
The local Red Cross division helps multiple military bases across a four county region.
Northwest Florida Red Cross CEO Jerry Kindle tells Action News storm preparations started this week strategizing with about a dozen volunteers. By the end of the week they had about 200 who joined in to help.
Anytime the area faces a potentially damaging storm system, the Red Cross includes local bases like NAS Pensacola in its emergency response plans.
"We have some big bases in our four counties," said Kindle. "They actually have their own emergency operating centers, so not only do we have to worry about manning those, we also have supplies on the bases that we actually resource in order to respond to the community and they're also a source of volunteers."
The Red Cross is on standby with six shelters across the region that are ready to open immediately if needed.