• South Florida evacuees spend hours on Turnpike to get to Central Florida

    By: Shannon Butler , WFTV Web Staff


    As thousands of people flee South Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma, many have had to abandon their vehicles on the Florida Turnpike when they became disabled or ran out of gas, the Florida Highway Patrol said Wednesday night. 

    "Unfortunately, the increased number of disabled and abandoned vehicles has created a problem for emergency workers utilizing the shoulders to reach crash victims and other roadway issues," FHP said in a statement. 

    Starting at 6 a.m. Thursday, any vehicle left disabled or abandoned along the Florida Turnpike will be towed from the roadway, FHP said. 

    "We also want to remind drivers that all service plazas, along the Turnpike are open and troopers are assisting the movement of drivers needing to refuel," the FHP statement said. "Only vehicles are allowed to fuel, at this time. No one will be permitted to fill other containers, as the goal is to get drivers back on the road, as soon as possible.

    "Stopping along the Turnpike, except in designated areas is prohibited, unless your vehicle becomes disabled or there is an emergency."

    Many residents chose to evacuate Thursday afternoon, creating a traffic nightmare on the Turnpike. 

    South Florida resident Carol Crespo left Culter Bay, an unincorporated part of Miami-Dade County, at 5 a.m. She and her children didn’t make it to Orlando until 11:30 a.m.

    “We figured we are safe enough here, so we are very grateful,” she said.

    Her husband is a Miami-Dade firefighter and had to stay behind.

    She said she made decent timing because she left early and took the back roads, but it wasn’t easy.

    “I really just had to tryst my GPS to take me back to the main road,” said Crespo.

    Troopers worked throughout the day directing traffic on the Turnpike, not just one the roadways, but at the gas pumps.

    “Our goal is to get these people refueled so that can evacuate and the people behind them can get in and out as quickly as possible,” said Montes.

    Troopers want to make sure there are no fights or delays.

    People can only fill up their cars at the stations on the Turnpike. 

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