Broward shelters begin to fill to capacity as mandatory evacuation underway

Tropical storm force winds expected to begin Saturday morning or afternoon

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor , Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

PLANTATION, Fla. - Broward residents are heeding the call to evacuate ahead of Irma as one shelter has already been filled to capacity.

Officials are telling people that the shelter at Pompano Beach High School is now closed and no longer accepting residents.

Those who were planning to go to the closed shelter are now being directed to Lyons Creek Middle school at 4333 Sol Press Boulevard.

A mandatory evacuation went into effect at noon Thursday for a portion of Broward County, including for those who live in mobile homes or in low-lying areas.

The evacuation was also ordered for people living east of Federal Highway, including the barrier islands.

"Mandatory evacuations are ordered to protect coastal residents from storm surge and to protect mobile home residents from rising water and high wind," Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said at a news conference. "If you are in an evacuation zone or are asked to evacuate, please do so." 

Sharief said tropical storm force winds are expected to begin Saturday morning or afternoon in Broward County and are expected to worsen throughout the weekend into Monday. 

"Irma is a dangerous, Category 5 storm, but proper preparation and adherence to evacuation orders can help us weather it safely together," Sharief said.  

Broward County officials said drawbridges will be locked down beginning at noon Friday. 

Officials held a staff briefing earlier in the morning, where they discussed transitional housing after the storm, as they anticipate some people will be forced to leave their homes because of damage.

Sharief said 14 shelters opened at noon Thursday. All county operations closed at the end of the day Wednesday and will remain closed on Thursday and Friday, Sharief said.

Special needs people who need assistance are asked to call 311 so they can be registered at a shelter.

Officials said there is currently one shelter for special needs people, but they will activate more shelters if needed. 

Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport remain open at this time, but passengers are advised to check with their airline or cruise line for possible delays or cancellations.

Broward County Transit will operate on a Saturday schedule on Thursday and Friday.

Express Bus service will continue to operate. Routes 15, 23, 56, and 88 will run on a weekday schedule.

Click here for information about shelters and further emergency information for Broward County.

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