Hurricane Dorian evacuees see far less traffic than Irma

17 Florida counties issued evacuation orders ahead of Dorian

By Jake Stofan - Tallahassee corespondent

Comparing traffic during Dorian and Irma

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Evacuation orders were still in effect for much of Florida's east coast as Hurricane Dorian slowly began to take a more northerly track, yet traffic across the state remained relatively clear.

In 2017, traffic was miles long and flowing at a snail's pace on westbound Interstate 10 as 6 million Floridians tried to escape Hurricane Irma's path. 

On Tuesday, as Hurricane Dorian inched up the state offshore, traffic was clear.

The Florida Highway Patrol said it's the same around the state.

"People are just staying home, staying put, and through the last monitoring, extremely light traffic patterns," said FHP Director Col. Gene Spaulding.

During Hurricane Irma, the rest stop that the Capitol News Service visited was essentially converted to a makeshift RV park full of evacuees. However, after spending an hour there Tuesday, only a handful of evacuees escaping Dorian could be found -- even though 17 Florida counties had issued evacuation orders, 12 of them mandatory.

  Tracking Dorian

St. Augustine resident Albert Stefanoiu was one of the million Floridians living in an evacuation zone. He decided not to take any chances.

"It's best to get out, said Stefanoiu "You can rebuild your home, but you can't rebuild your life." 

That was reiterated during Irma by then-Gov. Rick Scott and again during Dorian by the now U.S. senator.

"You can rebuild your home but you can't rebuild your life," Scott tweeted Saturday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said part of the reason Dorian evacuations are running smoother compared to Irma is because the state gave local communities more say in where and when to issue evacuation orders.

"I think it's worked better," DeSantis said. "I think there was frustration in the past when people were kind of crisscrossing the state having to evacuate. Actually, some people (were) evacuating into the storm path."

Unless there's a major shift in Dorian's projected path, it is unlikely escape routes will face the congestion seen during Irma, which is good news for those still considering evacuating.

While the threat of Dorian appears to be lessening, the governor continues to urge Floridians to heed evacuation orders. 

For an updated list, visit Floridadisaster.org/info.

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