Floridians getting out or getting in shelters ahead of Irma

MIAMI (AP) — Florida’s emergency management division says nearly 6,000 people are already huddling in shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Most of the evacuees are gathered in shelters in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, where catastrophic Category 4 winds are expected to hit this weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of residents have fled in anticipation of Irma’s winds and storm surge, which have already killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean. Many roads leaving the state have been jammed with traffic.

Gov. Rick Scott has directed all public schools, colleges and universities and state offices to close through Monday at least to make them available for shelter and staging of recovery efforts.

Floridians fleeing Hurricane Irma have turned Atlanta’s freeways into a ribbon of red neon brake lights, with traffic in some spots barely moving.

Thousands of the evacuees have been funneled to the city, since so many them are heading north on Interstate 75 straight to Atlanta.

Some ended up at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which opened its vast camp grounds to anyone trying to escape Irma.

It took 21 hours for Suzanne Pallot of Miami to reach Atlanta Thursday, in an SUV packed with four other people, their luggage and two cats.

After a night at a relative’s house, she heard weather forecasts predicting tropical storm force winds for Atlanta on Monday. So the group decided Friday to keep moving, this time to Memphis, Tennessee.

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