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Detroit Tigers turn Lakeland facility into shelter for Hurricane Irma

The Tigers' are turning their spring training home into a headquarters for emergency personnel. 

The Detroit Tigers play an exhibition game against Florida Southern at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., on Feb. 29, 2016.

The Tigers' spring training home in Lakeland, Fla., was turned into a headquarters for emergency personnel as Hurricane Irma barreled down on South Florida on Sunday.

Ron Myers, Tigers director of Florida operations, said there were about 50 staff members, athletic trainers, coaches, players and family members hunkered down in the TigerTown complex. Myers said some were moved to the new windowless administrative building because it is expected to be safer.

The beds in the dormitories, Meyer said, will be used for first responders once the recovery efforts begin after Irma, an historic storm that left a trail of death through the Caribbean over the past week. Lakeland is located about 35 miles east of Tampa on Florida's west coast, which is in the storm's direct path.

Myers said they are bracing to be hardest hit around 2 a.m. Monday.

Myers said as many as 600 people can be fed three meals a day at the Tigers' facility, in addition to 500 boxed lunches. A generator in the cafeteria is set up so hot meals can be served.

“We did it in 2004,” Myers said of other hurricane recovery efforts. “We provided a thousand meals. They were lined down the complex but we fed everybody. The employees moved into the dorm and they didn’t go home for nine days. We fed everybody.”

Meyer, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, said winds of “35 to 40 miles an hour” were blowing in Lakeland, along with rain.