Millions Evacuate Florida: Where Will They Go? [Opinion]

Plans to evacuate Florida have not gone smoothly, as up to 6.3 million citizens attempt to evacuate the state, which has only two major highways running its length. Many gas stations are out of gas along Highways I-75 and I-95.

Florida officials estimate about 30 percent of Floridians are leaving home under mandatory evacuation, according to the Miami Herald. Now many of Georgia’s coastal counties are also facing mandatory evacuation, according to Action News JAX. Even some counties in South Carolina are reportedly under mandatory evacuation orders.

The mandate to evacuate Florida coastal areas and lowlands in anticipation of Hurricane Irma is reportedly the largest evacuation in American history. The logistics of moving that many people in a limited time have been highly problematic.

Only hours before the storm, people in Florida were reportedly seeking shelter and already dealing with power outages. A decision was made to open several elementary schools as shelters. School shelters have reportedly accommodated even more Florida residents forced to evacuate their homes, yet unable to leave the state, according to the video below as well as ABC News’ live feed.

As millions evacuate Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, where are they to go, and what of those left behind? Will they be safe?

Those evacuating Florida are finding themselves as far north as North Carolina and Virginia, according to the video below, seeking hotels and shelters. Even in North Carolina, there is concern about high winds and rain in the coming days, but those evacuating Florida are being welcomed in North Carolina hotels and shelters.

Many who have not evacuated Florida for other states were seeking shelter in Germain Arena and other shelters, just hours ahead of the storm. Shelters are filling quickly, and most are full as residents scrambled to find shelter space in time.

Hurricane Irma devistated St. Maarten
Hurricane Irma devistated St. Maarten by Gerben Van Es Dutch Defense Ministry via AP

Germain Arena was one of the last southern Florida shelters taking evacuees. The arena holds 7,000 to 8,000, but with long lines waiting outside for up to five hours late Saturday evening, there may not be enough room to house them all. Where will they go?


Plans to evacuate Florida have been complicated by localized fuel shortages, heavy traffic, the closure of airports due to weather and most crucially the ever changing predicted path of Hurricane Irma. Irma has slowed to a Category 3 at the moment, but so far she has proven to be an extraordinary storm.

Desperate Florida Residents seek shelter in the Germain Stadium
Desperate Florida Residents seek shelter in the Germain Stadium by Gerald Herbert

The decision to evacuate Florida, though problematic, will probably save lives.

[Featured Image by Gerald Herbert/AP Images]