Hurricane Irma approaches Florida; residents evacuate

Gas stations face shortages as residents leave town

Written by Sarah Albertino, Staff Writer

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Not long after Hurricane Harvey, another devastating Hurricane is going to make its way to the United States. Her name is Irma, and she is going to hit southern Florida with winds getting as high as 175 miles per hour. Many people have left, or are planning to leave Florida before Irma strikes, leading to problems on the road.

Tami Sierra, a Florida resident and LTHS alumni, says, “All the gas stations from Naples to Tallahassee, and pretty much in the State of Florida, has a gas shortage. So many people have panicked and thought there’s no gas that is going to be available . . . Very few gas stations are getting gas so it’s hard to say when anything becomes available, and when it does it’s gone within minutes. When people do get gas, the state government asked that you only get what you need, but people are filling up gas cans.”

Tami spoke with a first responder who said it was a 44-hour drive from Naples to the state line in Georgia, a drive that would usually take 5 hours.

Tami points out that trying to drive that length with only a full tank of gas, unsure if there would be any gas stations on the way, would raise some doubt if a person would make it to his or her destination in time. This is one out of many reasons why people are not able to evacuate, including Tami herself.

Some of the other main reasons why people are not able to leave are: being in a hospital, health dispositions, lack of finances, or work. Despite the warning to evacuate before the storm, many people still remain in southern Florida. Since there will be some people left in the area, the state is working on what it can do to ensure its residents’ safety in this trying time.

Tami also adds, “We have went down the survival kits list and have been buying all our survival stuff like the cases of water and preparing for when there’s no power. We have the shutters that are going to protect us, and we have a safety route and plan if we have to evacuate. We know we have places to go, such as my work offering the family and our pets to come along and stay there, which is a safe area to be.”

Matthew Sierra, a Florida resident and a 2017 graduate of Joliet West High School, reveals what he plans to do to ensure his safety: “We are stocking up because you have to stock up on everything. In a hurricane you need to be prepared to go days [without] power. You need water, batteries, non-perishable foods, and gas . . .”

Many Florida residents are doing exactly what Matt is doing. They are accepting the fact that they will likely be without power, running water, and other utilities due to damage from the hurricane.

Matt adds, “We live in a world where we rely so much on technology and power, so the possibility of it not being available is tough. It’s like what am I going to do? Water goes away when power does as well, so you have to prepare to go without showering for days and without plumbing.”

It certainly doesn’t sound like a pleasant situation. Many people are still in Florida, and the storm is growing near. Hopefully, they are taking the proper safety precautions to ensure their safety and bracing themselves for temporarily living without power and other utilities. It will be interesting to see how the residents of Florida cope with this impending catastrophe.

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Hurricane Irma approaches Florida; residents evacuate