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Mandatory evacuation order in Florida: Not a choice for some tourists and residents

Mandatory evacuation order in Florida: Not a choice for some tourists and residents

St. Petersburg, Florida, has been voted to have the nicest white sandy beaches in the United States, and along with the rest of Florida, this thriving tourism destination on Tampa Bay is in for a nightmare when Hurricane Irma hits at category 3 or 4 strength.

The massive hurricane that has been barreling through the Caribbean, is expected to run up the east coast of Florida, which would mean tropical storm conditions along the west coast on Sunday. However, the bay area remains just inside the cone of uncertainty.

Pinellas County in Florida yesterday issued evacuation orders, following other counties in the state for the past few days. But even with this mandatory evacuation order in place, it is chaos in the streets. There is no way to move in any chosen direction.

Airbnb guest Rolf Bucker from Germany and his girlfriend are staying with Kathy, a local resident with 2 children and originally from the Aloha State of Hawaii.

They were having a great time, while also keeping an eye on the threatening storm, all along thinking St. Petersburg would be safe, until a mandatory evacuation was announced. Despite the order, many tourists and locals decide to stay put.

Kathy, a former employee for eTurboNews, said the roads were jammed. It took one of her friends 12 hours yesterday to drive to nearby Orlando, where, unfortunately, Orlando is also under threat.

She said hotels are booked solid from where she is to Tennessee, and there are no available flights out anywhere.

“I cannot take the risk of being stuck in traffic just some short miles from here,” she said.

“My wooden house is a little fragile, but what can I do? I am looking for some more solid shelters, but there are little choices. Most of my neighbors are sticking together, and we feel scared, but safer to ride it out.”

This is a repeating message being brought to eTN from visitors and locals in Florida, desperately trying to stay safe.

Mandatory evacuation sound great, but at this point, it simply is no longer an option.

Is Florida really prepared for Irma? It’s a scary question with an answer that is yet to be seen.