Georgia welcomes host of south Florida evacuees

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 7, 2017

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- With south Florida residents looking for refuge away from Irma, raveling down I-75 northbound is bumper-to-bumper with no end in sight, and the Georgia welcome center has tallied more than 2,000 cars in a span of five hours.

Fort Lauderdale resident Thomas Benton explains what initiated his departure from home. He recalls, “When my children heard what was going to happen with the storm, they said, ‘Dad, we’re coming to get you.'” Benton is grateful for this trip that he never could have made alone.

"Last night was a little rough on the turnpike,” added Mike Bell. “People were getting feisty and rowdy, but today has been nothing but people being positive.”

Their longtime family home on the coastal waterway of Fort Lauderdale is expecting flooding and roof damage. However, they are still keeping their spirits high and hoping for the best.

Bell continues, “I’ve met some of the most enjoyable people in all my life.” Help has certainly been appreciated by this family. Hundreds of maps have been handed out in Georgia to help visitors find a place to stay. But with evacuees flooding north, this intense traffic is assumed to only be the beginning.

Emergency Management officials in Georgia are monitoring the situation and weighing the options of what to do next.