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Evacuation plans leave South Florida in chaos

By Cassia Laham

Fort Lauderdale, FL — Over 600,000 residents of South Florida were ordered to leave their homes in mandatory evacuations put into place due to Hurricane Irma. However, the government was vastly underprepared to house and help those residents forced to leave their homes.

Those who were ordered to evacuate live in areas that are particularly prone to flooding and will likely experience fatal storm surges. They left with only what they could carry in backpacks and duffle bags, pillows and blankets in hand, children being pushed in strollers. Some left in cars, some on bikes, most in buses.

But when they arrived at the designated evacuation spots, most were turned away because the shelters were already filled to capacity. This happened time and time again to thousands of Floridians seeking refuge from what may be the deadliest storm to ever make landfall in the state. They were bounced from one shelter to the next, being told that there was no room.

This chaotic scene played out all day and night Friday, Sept. 8, and it demonstrates the complete lack of concern and preparedness by the U.S. government for its most vulnerable residents. Those who couldn’t afford to buy overpriced flights out of state or without friends and family who live outside of their evacuation zones were left without safe places to stay. They stood in long, hot lines with their belongings in hand as they were shuffled around the region.

So while government officials instilled fear and terror in the people of South Florida, demanding they leave their homes, that same government was unable to provide shelter for them. In fact, as of Friday afternoon, the emergency evacuation shelters set up in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were only able to house 100,000 people (one-sixth of those required to leave).

Hundreds of flights from Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports were cancelled, highways were at a standstill, and shelters were filled to the brim leaving South Floridians with nowhere to turn and no place to hide from the oncoming storm.

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