As many people flee Hurricane Irma, some are heading right into its path. Irma is barreling towards Florida and is expected to make landfall tomorrow. David Goodwin is with the American Red Cross in Birmingham and was eastbound on Interstate 10 just outside Tallahassee when WBHM caught up with him Friday morning.
What he saw on the road to Florida.
“The whole trip it’s been really interesting. I’ve made this trip probably 50 times or so and southbound through Alabama over and over I saw hotels that were absolutely full, gas stations that were long lines of people waiting for gas. Even as far north as Montgomery, that was the case. One thing that really stands out to me once I made it to I-10, there’s not anybody in front of me eastbound for about half a mile. On the westbound side, that’s folks who would be heading out of Florida. It’s just bumper to bumper traffic with people trying to get away from those coastal areas. Most of the traffic on the eastbound side where I am are, I guess what I kind of call a construction kind of truck mostly hauling large generators and also like National Guard convoys. I’ve seen a number of these and some of those large military trucks that we see carrying supplies and equipment.”
Stay in Orlando or head south?
“Orlando is one of our primary staging locations with the Red Cross. So we have a number of staff who are coming into the Orlando area. And then based on where we are needed we will move on from there. So if as expected there is more need for staff south of Orlando specifically in that Miami area, then we will move on to that point as soon as we’re able to access that area Sunday afternoon or so.”
Stopped at a gas station in Florida
“One of the things that I am noticing are the number of folks who, when they stop for gas, have a number of external gas tanks like the red gas cans. I’m looking across the parking lot right now at someone who has four, looks like three-gallon cans on the back of his pickup truck. I noticed someone who– and this is not a good idea, this is not what you need to do– they had gas tanks, the extra gas cans in the back of their car. That is extremely dangerous. The fumes can get to you before you notice that. So that’s something that people really should not do. I was blown away when I looked over and saw it.”
“There is a very thin line between the people who are in good, kind moods, and the people who think the zombie apocalypse is upon us. And it’s hard to tell the difference from 20 feet away.”
Goodwin lives in Birmingham, but he’s from Florida. He’s lived through storms like Hurricane Irma and working for the Red Cross he’s used to being in disaster situations. But he says he’s never seen people react this way before.
“I will say that during Hurricane Katrina there was a certain degree of concern and maybe with some that evolved into hysteria, especially around gas shortage. But this is really on a much larger scale, especially since we’re talking about larger population areas. It’s a very different animal out here right now.”