Palm Beach County EOC recommends barrier islands evacuate

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - On Wednesday afternoon, Palm Beach County officials urged barrier island residents to evacuate as Florida continues to monitor Hurricane Irma and possible storm surges.

Though not mandatory at this time, officials told WPTV "it's highly recommended."

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"We strongly recommend that you begin doing so at this time,” County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

But, Baker cautioned, "evacuate miles, not hundreds of miles," and in an effort to avoid road congestion, recommended those evacuating stay in county, "with friends, family members, hotels." 

Palm Beach EOC Leader Bill Johnson said there are currently around 300,000 in mandatory evacuation zones. They currently have more than 47,000 spots available in 15 shelters across the county, so Baker cautioned that those who aren't required to evacuate, "shelter in place."

County officials said those who go to a shelter should take bedding, two changes of clothes, batteries, medicines, snacks, games, books and playing cards to occupy their time.

Although Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick described Hurricane Irma as “the storm of many centuries," she cautioned media to not "sensationalize the storm."

When asked about employers making employees finish out the work week, Burdick asked employers to survey their employees and consider letting them leave to prepare, "as it's a matter of health and safety."

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