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Fuel shortages and traffic jams complicate Florida's Irma evacuation

Hurricane Irma, which pounded through the Caribbean on a devastating path toward Florida, is the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Officials in Miami-Dade County are responding with a historic evacuation to match.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez expanded evacuation orders for the state’s most populous county Thursday, bringing the total number of people asked to leave their homes up to 650,000 — the largest evacuation ever ordered in Miami-Dade. Irma is expected to make landfall Sunday in Florida.


Thursday’s orders, which more than tripled the number of people being asked to evacuate, was based on FEMA storm-surge forecasts that predict “life-threatening” flooding and was decided after the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch, Gimenez said.

The orders cover the county’s barrier islands, much of Miami’s residential, waterfront, and downtown districts, and some areas further south, like Coral Gables.

Reports Thursday indicate the state is currently grappling with fuel shortages and clogged highways as South Florida residents try to escape the storm.

If the jams don’t let up, Gimenez warns, those still stuck on the roads could be sitting ducks.

“The worst place to be in a hurricane is in your car, on an open road,” Gimenez said Thursday.