JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott stopped in Jacksonville Thursday to speak about Hurricane Irma efforts across the state. He emphasized how deadly the hurricane has been in the Caribbean with 10 lives lost and warns that it will still be deadly as it gets closer to Florida with “deadly storm surge and life-threatening wind."
Scott said a top priority Thursday was working on fuel supply. Mayor Lenny Curry said that is also a top concern of his in Jacksonville. He said it’s not that we are out of gas across Duval County, but the problem is getting the deliveries quickly across the state amid evacuations.
Scott said he is working with several agencies including the White House on expediting more fuel and to do so they are trying to wave some federal regulations to make the process faster. Three tankers ships were headed to Tampa Thursday and they are still working on more. He directed Florida Highway Patrol to escort fuel trucks to gas stations safely. He recommends downloading the “Gas Buddy” app on your phone to find available fuel.
Scott said damage from Irma is expected to be worse than Hurricanes Matthew and Andrew. He, Mayor Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams all strongly urge evacuating. Scott said evacuation doesn’t mean leaving the state or having to travel hundreds of miles away, but rather just going to your local shelter. He said going to your local shelter will also help ease your concern about finding gas.
Click here for a list of local shelters.
Scott said they are in need of volunteers statewide. More than 8,000 people volunteered in eight hours Thursday morning, but they need 17,000 across the state. If you want to help with shelters, food distribution or relief efforts you can sign up at VolunteerFlorida.org
Scott is in continual contact with President Donald Trump discussing federal aid and resources. He said the president is ready to give the state whatever it needs.
As for traffic congestion, Scott said they have worked diligently to avoid the evacuation disaster from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 when cars were stuck on the highway for days. Now they are trying to get people out sooner and if needed they will open the shoulders along the interstates. He says safety is the top priority and that requires a lot of manpower so they won’t make that move until it’s necessary.
Mayor Curry reiterated Scott’s points Thursday saying, “what we know is that this is not another Matthew." He said the storm surge could be up to 10 feet or more. He said to expect tropical winds to move in Sunday morning followed by hurricane force winds Monday.
“This evacuation is voluntary, but this is a serious voluntary ask,” Curry said.
Williams advised all evacuees to take I-295 and I-10 W instead of I-95 straight through the city to help ease the flow of traffic leading. He also recommended leaving overnight or first thing in the morning to avoid congestion.