The Latest: Gov Scott Urges Gas Stations To Stay Open

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma preparations in Florida (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Gov. Rick Scott is urging all gas stations in Florida to stay open as long as possible to accommodate people who are trying to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

The governor said during a Thursday news conference that the state will send in police escorts to get gas station employees out safely if necessary before the storm arrives.

He says authorities are already escorting fuel tankers to get them through traffic and to gas stations as quickly as possible.

Scott says all of the state’s ports are still operating, bringing in fuel and supplies.

He urged residents to take only as much gas as they need to make sure there is enough for everyone who needs it.

10:45 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott maintains that the state is doing everything it can to deal with fuel shortages and traffic jams so people can evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Scott on Thursday acknowledged that the current situation is “frustrating” for Floridians, but he said the state is working with federal authorities and other states to move as much gas into the state.

This includes having the Florida Highway Patrol escort fuel trucks.

Beth Frady, a spokeswoman for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said that during the night troopers helped escort trucks from two Florida ports to stations in Marion and Martin counties.

Troopers were also escorting trucks from Georgia to stations in Perry, which is located in north central Florida.

9:50 a.m.

American Airlines is preparing to shut down operations across Florida as Hurricane Irma approaches.

Officials said in a news release that the airline will cease operations at its Miami hub as well as in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers on Friday afternoon.

The final flight to leave Miami International Airport is scheduled to take off for Dallas at 3:49 p.m. Friday.

Operations will cease at Orlando International Airport at 2 p.m. on Saturday and airline officials said they will continue to monitor conditions at other airports in Florida.

Resumption of service will depend upon airport and roadway conditions and the ability of crew members to get to work.

Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

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8:45 a.m.

The Florida Highway Patrol says troopers are monitoring the high volume of traffic heading north on Florida’s Turnpike as people evacuate South Florida.

In a news release, the highway patrol said extra troopers, road rangers and wreckers will be on the roadways to help drivers whose vehicles have become disabled.

The agency says disabled vehicles left on the shoulders of the highways will be towed staring Thursday morning to make it easier for emergency workers who are trying to reach crash victims.

Turnpike officials are also using cameras along the road to monitor conditions.

Anyone needed help can call (asterisk)FHP to get assistance.

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4:22 a.m.

Residents in parts of the Miami metro area are under mandatory orders to leave their homes as Hurricane Irma barrels toward South Florida with potentially catastrophic winds.

Mayors in Miami-Dade and Broward counties issued mandatory evacuation orders starting Thursday morning for barrier islands and low-lying mainland areas in the metro area of 6 million, where forecasters predict the hurricane with winds of 180 mph (290 kph) could strike by early Sunday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott strongly urges people to evacuate if asked to do so by local officials. The governor also says he expects the state’s gas stations to have fuel Thursday, after talking with fuel retailers a day earlier.

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News Talk Florida Staff