This piece was initially published at 1 p.m. on Sept. 9. We’ll be trying to keep it as current as possible, but holler if you spot out-of-date information.
Millions of Floridians have gotten evacuation orders as Hurricane Irma approaches. Evacuees have moved from cities on both coasts of South Florida to cities in central or northern Florida, like Orlando and Gainesville, all of which are now in the path of a major hurricane.
As the storm’s cone shifts north/northwest, here’s what you need to know and do if you already evacuated to elsewhere in Florida. We’ve compiled answers to common questions and resources you should check continuously as the situation develops. Have you already evacuated Miami? Let us know the conditions near you in the comments or on Twitter.
Should I try to return to Miami?
The National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. Saturday advisory projects a north/northwest turn for Irma that would spare Miami a direct hit — however, Miami is still very much within the range of uncertainty, and minor shifts in weather conditions could change the forecast over the next 24 hours.
Tropical storm force winds are already arriving in Miami-Dade, tens of thousands of homes are without power, and dangerous winds and storm surges are still expected. Regardless of where the center of Irma makes landfall in Florida, Miami-Dade is in for serious wind, rain, and flooding.
Plus, hurricane warnings are in effect for all of Florida from Fernandina Beach (at the Georgia border, near Jacksonville) all the way around the coast to the Aucilla River near Tallahassee. This means that all roads connecting Miami to central and western Florida are also under threat of extremely dangerous conditions.
If you’ve already evacuated north of Miami, attempting to return is not advised.
Where can I find shelters in Florida?
Many of you evacuated to areas that will now be affected by Hurricane Irma. If your area is under an evacuation order, or you are in a structure that isn’t secured for a major hurricane, you should head to a shelter. This map will show you the nearest shelter, wherever you are in the state.
Follow Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT) on Twitter at @FLSERT or text FLPREPARES to 888777 for text alerts. Their website lists resources, phone numbers and contact information for local response and recovery, plus weather updates.
Can I still drive out of Florida?
Depending on your location. State officials say that anyone ordered to evacuate do so as soon as possible. Readers have reported highways are relatively clear and gas is available at many stations—though these conditions could change at any time. Use the GasBuddy app to find stations that still have fuel and keep tabs on where the closest shelter is located.
Many counties in Georgia are also under a hurricane watch, so check the National Hurricane Center’s advisories frequently to know what’s happening in your area. The storm is expected to weaken as it makes its way up the Florida peninsula, but conditions will still be dangerous.
When can I return to Miami?
We’re at least 24 hours from knowing how severe the damage will be in Miami-Dade and elsewhere in Florida, so there’s no firm estimate of when conditions will be safe for return. The hurricane is not projected to leave the Florida peninsula until early Tuesday.
Miami-Dade’s Emergency Management team will post updates to Twitter as recovery begins and evacuation orders are lifted.
We’ll continue to update this story and our guide throughout the weekend with the latest information and resources. Stay safe, everyone.