Hurricane Irma

White House Lifting Legal Hurdles to Aid in Irma Evacuations

Hurricane Irma will make her historic landfall in Florida this weekend as one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

The enormous storm dwarfs 1992’s Hurricane Andrew in size, and is on a somewhat similar path to that infamously damaging Hurricane, urging Florida authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for much of the state’s coastline, particularly in the south where Irma will visit first.

Those evacuation orders are not always regarded highly among long-time residents of the Sunshine State, with far too many Floridians refusing to leave the Miami Beach area even after being told in to uncertain terms that they would be risking their lives by remaining in town.  Florida officials have taken to using extremely blunt language to impact their citizens as well, claiming that if you stay, and you call 911, “no one will answer”.

For those who are taking to the highway to escape the wrath of the storm of the century, things are not necessarily going well.  Traffic jams in northern Florida have turned what would be 7 hour drives to safety in 14 hour brake-tapping nightmares.

Worse yet, much of Florida is running out of gasoline.

This latest development prompted action from the White House today, as federal officials lifted long-standing legal precedents that limited the amount of fuel that could be shipped into the state.

“The Trump administration has waived a key statute to allow for ‘as many ships as possible’ to bring fuel into Florida, as part of a massive effort to ease gas shortages for Florida residents and others in the path of Hurricane Irma.

“’We’re bringing in as much supply of refined fuel as possible,’ Tom Bossert, White House homeland security adviser, told reporters on Friday.

“The move was made in conjunction with state officials in Florida who are scrambling to get fuel to the pumps and alleviate gas shortages. Florida has taken several steps to expedite those shipments.

“At the federal level, the step Bossert cited involves an obscure but critical law known as the Jones Act, which says only American-made, U.S.-flagged vessels can ship products between domestic ports. He said the secretary of Homeland Security waived the statute so that foreign-flagged vessels can help.

This isn’t the only fuel-specific action being taken by authorities either, as Irma is closing in on Florida swiftly.

Governor Rick Scott, who certainly has his hands full in dealing with this massive storm, has instructed state police to escort tanker trucks full of fuel into the state to avoid the traffic nightmares of the evacuation.

As of Friday, social media was chock-full of reports of gasoline shortages from Miami all the way to Atlanta, where Irma may impact the City Too Busy to Hate sometime early next week.

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