50,000 head to Florida shelters ahead of Irma

Hurricane Irma storm path heads towards Florida Photo: Brandon Beyer / Twitter
By  | 

More than 50,000 people in Florida are seeking shelter in schools, community centers and churches as Hurricane Irma nears the state.

The government-sponsored shelters were open Saturday as officials warned 6.3 million Floridians to evacuate. The storm was expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday. Those with nowhere to turn headed to the shelters while others sought lodging at hotels or with friends and family.

Red Cross shelter coordinator Steve Bayer said most people at shelters are grateful and happy.

Steve and Judith Smith of Orlando fled their mobile home and wound up at their local middle school after all the nearby hotels were sold out.

Many Florida families say online retailers let them down at the worst possible moment with cancellations and no-shows ahead of powerful Hurricane Irma even before the weather deteriorated.

The Associated Press has received more than 50 complaints from South Florida families who were expecting flashlights, battery-operated radios, water bottles and first-aid kits after placing orders with online retailers.

Customers said on Saturday that they received the cancellations only after evacuations had begun in their neighborhoods and local markets' shelves had emptied. Some had placed orders as early as Monday.

Other said their packages arrived in Miami but were either stuck at a sorting facility for a few days or delayed because of problems with couriers.

A Nestle-owned water delivery company, ReadyRefresh, apologized on Twitter for service disruptions and delays.