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Panthers ready to ‘support our Florida family’ as Hurricane Irma threatens

<> on September 6, 2017 in Doral, Florida.

<> on September 6, 2017 in Doral, Florida.

Mark Wilson

With Hurricane Irma threatening to hit Florida, the Panthers and BB&T Center have pledged their support for the community and announced preparation plans for the storm.

From the Panthers on Wednesday:

During the storm, BB&T Center will serve as an emergency vehicle staging site for various public service entities, as well as a tactical operation site for Florida Power and Light. Post storm, BB&T Center has been identified as a Broward County Logistical Staging Area. BB&T Center stands willing and able to support any needs determined by the City of Sunrise and Broward County.

“We are here and ready to support our Florida family, Broward County and the City of Sunrise as the community prepares for Irma’s possible landfall,” said Florida Panthers Owner Vincent J. Viola. “Service to the community and family are in the DNA of our organization.”

BB&T Center has established a hotline at 954-835-8911. Individuals are encouraged to call the hotline for the most up to date information regarding BB&T Center.

The Panthers were slated to be one of four teams competing in a prospects tournament in Florida, beginning Saturday and running through to Tuesday. The Capitals, Lightning and Predators were also scheduled to take part in the event, however, it was officially cancelled Wednesday, with the storm threatening to strike Florida over the weekend.

Hurricane Irma, which has already slammed into Caribbean islands, is currently listed as a Category 5 storm.

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida.

“We encourage our fans, staff and members of our community to prepare wisely and stay safe throughout the duration of this storm,” said Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell. “Our strength as a community will guide us the through the difficult times ahead.”

According to the Miami Herald, a number of Panthers players and staff will evacuate Florida ahead of the storm’s arrival.

From the Miami Herald:

The team is paying for the flight and could open training camp in Springfield, Massachusetts, next week depending on the extent of the damage in and around Broward County.

A group of about 80 will depart Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning.

Players, coaching staff and hockey operations are part of the traveling party.

“We have the facilities in Springfield and could start camp there if we had to,” said team CEO Matthew Caldwell, who plans on riding out the storm at the arena.