Large scale evacuation for Hurricane Irma in South Florida sees millions fleeing
Life-threatening rains, flooding, and winds are forcing the police to go door to door telling people to choose evacuation and avoid the area in preparation for Hurricane Irma’s assault on South Florida on Sunday. The resultant mass exodus is creating massive traffic jams on Interstates 95, 75 and the Florida Turnpike, which you can see live on live Florida traffic map.
— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) September 8, 2017
Evacuation is now mandatory with orders having come in for parts of counties of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Brevard. The state’s numerous evacuation orders put together makes this one of the largest mass evacuations ever attempted with some calling it the largest mass evacuation in US history. In Miami-Dade alone, more than 650,000 people, and 1.3 million plus overall.
Even as this gargantuan effort tries to get people out of harm’s way, many are concerned about if and how all the area’s residents will get to safety. The area has some unique demographics as well which makes evacuation efforts especially difficult: the Pew Research Center says close to 20% of the state’s population is 65 and older, the highest such concentration in the US.
As of Thursday afternoon, Wall Street Journal says eleven hospitals have announced evacuations and close to 140 healthcare facilities for the elderly have said they would evacuate. Same goes for thousands of inmates in state prisons.
Another group that’s particularly at-risk here are the region’s homeless population which The Homeless Trust of Miami estimates to be about 1,130 strong on the streets. They’re now being directed toward general shelters and those who refuse, involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward ahead of the storm.
Despite all these warnings, some people, unfortunately, will never evacuate their homes due to financial reasons, disabilities, or just sheer stubbornness.
Hurricane Irma is expected to cause severe and catastrophic damage to the state and has been setting all kinds of records, including sustained 185 mph winds for more than 24 hours straight, the record for a hurricane in the Atlantic.