Hurricane forces FL candidates to change campaign plans

CNN's Ryan Nobles reports from Tallahassee, Florida where candidates are changing their campaign plans as hurricane Michael approaches.

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 3:25 PM
Updated: Oct 10, 2018 3:45 PM

More than 1,000 people move to Florida every day. That means there are a lot of new Floridians who haven't experienced a hurricane evacuation yet.

As a relatively new Floridian myself, I have a story for my new neighbors living in the Panhandle, getting ready to experience the wrath of Hurricane Michael.

Last year, when Hurricane Irma hit Tampa Bay, I was a hurricane dummy. Well, maybe not a dummy, but definitely a rookie. I hadn't yet experienced my first tropical storm evacuation. All that changed when Irma churned its way up the Gulf Coast of Florida in September, and the eye of the storm passed right over my adopted city of Tampa.

From my first evacuation experience, which involved driving 600 miles in 14 hours, I've learned the following lessons, which I gladly share with my fellow Floridians and others who live in coastal areas.

Tip #1: Fill your tank early -- and often

My fellow Floridians drilled this mantra into my head from my very first few days in the Sunshine State, and I'm glad I took their advice. I had a full tank of gas well in advance of leaving town. If I had waited until the last minute, I might have been out of luck. As the storm was approaching, lots of gas stations had those telltale plastic bags over the pump. Remember: If a gas station has gas, pull over and get some immediately.

Tip #2: Have food and water for your road trip

Again, this was advice I'm glad I took. I had plenty of granola bars, chips, bottles of water and other assorted snacks for my journey. It's a good thing, too, because I was on the road literally all night long, from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day.

Tip #3: Leave town super early

Although I left town days before Irma hit the Tampa Bay area, it wasn't early enough. I thought I could make up for lost time by taking a less-traveled state road instead of the congested interstate. It didn't matter. I still ran into traffic jams. Likewise, I thought I could find a hotel vacancy by driving northwest into Alabama instead of due north into Georgia (where most people were headed). That didn't matter, either. Nothing beats leaving earlier than everybody else.

Which leads me to my next point...

Tip #4: Book a hotel while you still can

As I drove through rural north Florida, my thoughtful sister and brother-in-law called me from safe-and-dry Cincinnati with some news: "We found a hotel vacancy for you in Alabama!" I should have heeded their advice to book a place. But I wasn't completely sure I could make it to Alabama. What if traffic came to a complete standstill for hours at a time? What if I ran out of gas before I got to Alabama?

I should have stopped "what iffing" myself. It turned out that hotel rooms were in even shorter supply than gas. Which is why I drove for 14 straight hours before I found a vacancy. Six hundred miles later -- in Birmingham. So, book that hotel room -- or that "vacancy" at the home of your long-lost friend from high school or college. Or, if you're not sure how far you can get, book multiple places. One of the most dramatic things I saw on my long journey was the sight of hundreds of people sleeping in their cars at rest areas. With their kids. And their pets.

As it happened, Tampa was luckily spared yet again from the kind of damage other Florida cities have had to endure. But it could have played out differently. Millions lost power and faced flooding. If you're physically capable, and your local authorities have recommended it, you should evacuate. This is something the residents of the Carolinas, where Florence's death toll has climbed to 51, know all too well.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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