Escaping Hurricane Irma's path

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - With hotels filling up fast in Jackson County, some evacuees are continuing west on I-10.

NewsChannel 7/Local 18 caught up with some of those travelers at the Loves station in Mossy Head as they try to find their way out of the path of Irma.

"This hurricane that's coming up is one of the biggest I've ever seen and the way it looks like it's going to hit Florida, it's just going to wreak all kinds of havoc up and down the spine of the state," said Devin Allen who's traveling to Gulf Port from Tampa with his family.

From the east coast to the west coast of the Florida peninsula, many folks are packing up the essentials and fleeing Hurricane Irma as it barrels toward the heart of the state.

"I can see what mother nature does and I saw what it did to those islands when it hit earlier this week, so I wasn't going to take any chances," Allen added.

"We brought gas, everything we need. Medicine, everything we need so we can have a couple days here. Four kids, grandparents, parents, everything like that," said Elise and Chris Baroness who traveled from Palm Beach and Port St. Lucy.

But finding a place to stay out of Irma's path hasn't been easy.

"We couldn't get [to] Mobile, we couldn't get [to] Biloxi, so we're just trying to go as far west as we can and find a place that we can afford. And places that have rooms to rent," said Allen. "We've found a lot of the places along the Panhandle have already been rented out."

"We just want to be safe. I know we are going to go back to... we don't know what, but we'll all be safe and that's the important thing," added the Baronoffs.

Most people traveling west on I-10 say they are heading toward Alabama.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said westbound traffic on 1-10 is heavier than normal but is flowing smoothly at this time.

FHP also said to pack your patience and pay attention to sudden traffic changes.

Walton County Emergency Management has been activated as a level 2 status, which means they have opened up a shelter for evacuees. The shelter is at the Southwide Baptist Church in DeFuniak Springs, however, they said they have only 115 spots available and it is not pet-friendly.

Corey Dobridnia with the Walton County Sheriff's Office said they have placed deputies throughout the county, including at interstate exits, rest stops, and gas stations to help assist evacuees and residents however they can.