ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Just before Hurricane Irma slammed Florida, traffic backed up for miles on interstates and some gas stations ran out of gas. The state is aiming to not have that happen again.
A report is out this week for the Florida House of Representative lists recommendations about how to make things better the next time the state faces an emergency such as a hurricane.
"Local emergency management had input. Local leaders had input," said Linda Stoughton, the Director of St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center.
The recommendations deal with all kinds of topics, from shelters to healthcare facilities.
One recommendation addresses evacuation routes; that is to emphasize the importance of shorter evacuation routes. Stoughton said that means you don't have to travel completely out of the storm's path, just out of the evacuation zones, which could create less traffic on roadways.
"And if we think about Hurricane Irma, that was difficult to do," she said. "Fifty-four counties our of 67 counties were under some kind of evacuation order. So it was difficult. Where do I go? And that is maybe when you need to look a little more local. The entire county is not under an evacuation order. The zones are under an evacuation order."
The report also suggests checking the feasibility of creating gas stations or fuel distribution centers in strategic areas to help with any kind of fuel shortages because of the storm.
"That does require logistics and a plan to be in place for that to be effective," Stoughton said.
The report also recommends that during a state of emergency, when a dealer runs out of unleaded gasoline, the dealer is authorized to sell the higher grade fuel at the same price as the unleaded.
Stoughton said these ideas are all about being better prepared and safe.
Each hurricane or tropical event that comes to Florida and Northeast Florida comes with a different personality and different characteristics. We have to be ready for whatever we're facing, she said.