Reflecting the dwindling hours before Hurricane Irma batters Florida, Gov. Rick Scott early Friday afternoon began encouraging residents to get off roadways and hunker down for the storm.
“I’m glad to see so many people are traveling to safe places,” Scott said at a media briefing in Tampa, but he added: “If you don’t need to be on the road, get off and go to a shelter.”
Irma, a category 4 storm, is projected to slam South Florida beginning Saturday and make her way straight up the peninsula through Central Florida over the weekend.
Most of the traffic congestion plaguing evacuees has been on the state’s main thoroughfares — Interstates 95 and 75 and Florida’s Turnpike — in central and northern reaches of the state, which should feel Irma’s winds starting Sunday.
Interstate 10, which runs from Jacksonville west through the Panhandle, was also seeing traffic delays by Friday afternoon, as thousands fled the hurricane by car.
From Tampa, Scott cautioned: “We will quickly run out of good weather to evacuate. ... Anywhere in the state, if you’re told to leave, get out.”
We will quickly run out of good weather to evacuate.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
He was even more dire to residents who had not yet heeded mandatory evacuations in the Florida Keys.
“If you’re in the Keys, leave now,” he said.
Scott has been urging residents to heed evacuation orders for days, but has also advised them to keep local emergency shelters in mind and recognize that they need not necessarily travel far to be safe from Irma.
Residents still on the road are advised to check real-time traffic conditions on fl511.com, the state’s public source of information on roadway conditions.
Clark reported from the Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau.