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Fleeing Irma: One Family’s Journey From Florida to Alabama


Traffic heading north along the Florida Turnpike near Homestead as residents evacuate to flee Hurricane Irma.

Florida’s roadways are clogged with residents trying to flee Hurricane Irma. At least 500,000 residents are under evacuation orders. Birmingham native Sean Kelley loaded his son and daughter and their two dogs into the car and hit the Florida Turnpike. They moved from Alabama to Boca Raton more than a year ago. And they’re making the drive north to stay with family in Lake Martin for the next several days.

Evacuees face heavy traffic and long lines at the gas pump. Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned of fuel shortages earlier today. Normally it’s a 10-hour drive from Boca Raton to Birmingham, but Kelley anticipates the journey could take anywhere from 15 to 18 hours.

There’s one person they left behind: Kelley’s wife, a pediatric nurse at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. The hospital has generators and supplies, and the family is hopeful she and others staying in South Florida will be all right.

WBHM’s Gigi Douban talked with Kelly as he was stuck in traffic on the Florida Turnpike about some of the tough decisions they made, and how confident they are they’ll have a home to return to in the aftermath of the deadly storm.

Meanwhile, Alabama has been preparing for an influx of evacuees. State officials urge residents to continue to monitor the storm and have emergency plans in place.