FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Drivers trying to leave Florida Thursday as Hurricane Irma approached dealt with congested roads and long lines at gas stations, as authorities issued new evacuation orders.
CBS North Carolina talked with several people trying to get out of the storm’s path as they stopped at a rest area in Cumberland County.
Karina Lugo is traveling to New York with four kids from Port St. Lucie, Florida.
“We’re packed in a small car, and then my seven-month-old, he has a cold. So, that’s why we have to keep stopping, different gas stations,” said Lugo. “Watching the news we were all pretty panicked. Going to get supplies, everything is pretty much empty.”
Lugo said it was tense at a store as her family tried to buy water.
“Getting water, people were even attacking us for the water, cases of water that we had,” she said.
The Sangiorgio family also was trying to get to New York from Boynton Beach, Florida.
Anthony Sangiorgio works for Assured Storm Protection, which helps prepare homeowners for damage from hurricanes. He said he wasn’t willing to risk staying in Florida.
He said, “When you hear a Category 5 is coming, even with your hurricane protection, you don’t know what could happen.”
His son said it was challenging finding gas stations that still had fuel as they traveled north.
“But, a lot of gas stations are either out or they have 10- to 20-car lines, and that’s the worst part about getting out of the storm,” said Chris Sangiorgio.
Most drivers CBS North Carolina interviewed said they packed enough clothes and supplies to be away from home for a week.
“It’s not so much the hurricane I was worried about. It was the flooding,” said Shannon Vasquez, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens with her daughters. They were trying to get to Springfield, Virginia, to stay with family.
Flooding and long-term power outages were among the main concerns people had. It’s also unclear how long it will take crews to get access to storm-damaged areas to make repairs and deliver supplies.
Lugo said, “From the look of it, I don’t know what we’re gonna go back to at home.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will suspend road work and lane closures Friday at 7 p.m. in an effort to help ease congestion as more people try to leave Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
In a news release, the agency noted, “An exception to the lane closure plan is on I-85 between Henderson and the Virginia line in Vance and Warren Counties. It will remain in a two-way pattern with a single lane in each direction over 20 miles, as there are no additional lanes to open due to the nature of the construction project at that location.”